The History Hunters research Virginians who do not have a marker in their honor but perhaps should.
Sully told Keaney he “wanted to study something about basketball,” his favorite sport. Keaney suggested that he research Edwin Bancroft “E.B.” Henderson. Sully had never heard of Henderson (neither had I), but he found out plenty from his research.
Henderson, an African American who lived in Falls Church for more than 50 years, has been called “the Father of Black Basketball.” He was the director of health and physical education in Washington’s Black schools from 1926 to 1954.
Notice I said “Black schools.” Years ago, Black and White children did not attend the same schools in Washington. White people required Black children to attend separate schools.
Henderson studied to become a teacher in the early 1900s. During his education, he attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard, Henderson learned about and played basketball, a new game that had been invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891.
Henderson brought the game to Washington’s Black community. He organized a basketball league that had eight teams. Henderson also started and played for a team at a YMCA on 12th Street.
Henderson stopped playing the sport in 1910 (his wife worried he would get hurt), but he continued organizing and growing the game. He formed the Public Schools Athletic League, which established competitions in basketball and other sports in the District. It was the first public school league for Black players in the country.
Henderson trained Black basketball coaches and officials, wrote books and articles about the game, and organized older players to teach younger players basketball fundamentals. He died in 1977, and 36 years later he was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a “contributor” to the game.
After learning this and more about Henderson, Sully was “surprised that he did not have a marker.”
Keaney, Sully and the Kings Glen History Hunters club nominated Henderson for a Virginia historical marker. The state approved the nomination, and a marker honoring Henderson will be installed in Falls Church.
The research on Henderson has gotten Sully excited about History Hunters, which he plans on sticking with in the fall. “It’s a cool club,” he said.