African-American Sports History

Who was called the “Father of Black Sport History”?

Edwin Bancroft Henderson (1883–1977) was the first to initiate an examination of African Americans in sport. While teaching physical education in the segregated school system in Washington, D.C., in the 1920s, he also helped to form several African-American sports organizations. A prolific writer, numerous academicians have used his works to develop publications of their own. As result, for over half a century nearly every article, book chapter, or history about African-American athletes has been influenced by his work. His book, The Negro in Sports, published in 1939, is the first published survey on African Americans in sports. His writings aimed to foster pride among African Americans and alter white beliefs about race. His works centered on black athletes who played in both segregated and white organized sports during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Henderson’s pioneering efforts earned him the much-deserved title “Father of Black Sport History.” Because he introduced basketball in the black Washington, D.C., schools in 1904, he has also been given the moniker “Grandfather of Black Basketball.” He was a civil rights activist as well.


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