February 7, 2010
What follows is a four-part series on the emergence of Black basketball in Washington under the driving force of
| Getting in Shape
1. The industrial age led to more
leisure time for the middle class. By the 1880s Americans went
on a physical fitness binge, building recreational centers, playgrounds,
and school gymnasiums. But....
2. African American communities were denied these facilities.
Black leaders expressed their concern..."Without an organized
effort, the physical condition of our young people will lag far
behind the whites...
3. "thus verifying the various myths about black inferiority."
4. A 12-man committee built one of the first African American
sports centers in 1901, the Eureka Aid & Atletic Club in
5. In 1906 several black educators in Washington, DC organized
the all-black Interscholastic Athletic Association (ISAA).
6. Its leader was a Phys Ed instructor named Edwin Henderson.
"The ISAA promotes the well-being of black students in Baltimore
7. The ISAA sanctioned the first legitimate black high school
football and basketball games and track meets in Washington.
| 1. The person who had
the most influence on physical fitness and organized sports among
young African Americans in early 20th century Washington, DC
was Edwin Bancroft Henderson.
2. Born in Washington in 1883,
Ed's family moved to Pittsburgh when he was 5 years old.
He loved playing sports, but every Sunday he and his younger
brother, Charles, sold their mother's baked buns to people walking
home from church.
3. The Hendersons returned to Washington in 1894. In 1902 Ed
graduated with honor from M Street High School (now Dunbar) where
he excelled in sports.
4. Two years later Edwin took top honors from Miner Normal School,
a 2-year college that trained teachers for Washington's black
5. That September Ed Henderson joined the staff ow Bowen Elementary
School, 101 M Street, SW as a physical education teacher.
Thus, he bacame the first African American male to teach phys.
ed. in an American public school.
6. During the summers of 1904, 05, and 07 Edwin studied physical
education at Harvard University where...
7. He discovered and mastered the recently invented game called
basketball. He would soon make it the most popular sport
Part 3 February 21, 2010
| A League of Their
1. One evening in 1907 two African
Americans, Edwin Henderson and Benjamin Brownley, walked into
the all-white Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Washington,
DC to watch a basketball game. Athletic director in background:
"Hey! You two..."
2. Just days earler at the 334th Annual International YMCA
conference in Washington, thousands of men of all races attended
seminars together, sang hymns, and embraced the Y's ideals of
love, brotherhood, and equality.
3. Nobody seemed to mind the presence of two black men in their
midst but, on this night, Mr. C. Edward Beckett, the club's athletic
director, took exception to the Y's ideal of equality.
Beckett: "This is a segreaged club an' you don't
4. "Now get out an' don't come back!"
5. As the two men walked home, Henderson declared, "IfMr.
Ed Beckett won't let us attend games at the Y...
6. "I'll organize our own league."
7. Henderson reserved a space in the basement of M Street High
School and conducted training sessions several evenings a week.
8. Their firs tgame was scheduled on December 26, 1907 at True
Reformers Hall on 12th and U Streets, NW. Continued....
Last of Four Parts----February 28, 2010
| Saturday Night
1. Physical Education instructor Edwin Henderson held the first
official all-black basketball game in Washington on December
26, 1907. Local high school students beat Howard College 12 to
2. The game was part of a Winter Athletic Carnival in True Reformers
Hall at 1200 U St., NW. Afterwards there was dancing to the tunes
of the Lyrical Orchestra.
3. A few days later Henderson announced the formation of a new
African American league simply called the Basketball League.
Henderson: "The league consists of Armstrong
High School, M Street High School, Crescent Athletic Club, Oberlin
Academy, Howard Academy. Howard Medical, Howard College, and
4. Every Saturday night hundreds of fans went to True Reformers
Hall and paid 25¢ to watch two games and dance afterwards.
5. When the first season ended in May 1908 M Street High topped
Armstrong High for the championship.
The Howard University Journal of May 10, 1908 reported,
"...basketball among schools and athletic clubs has won
a permanent place."
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