UDC receives $200,000 donation from The Leonsis Foundation,Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Washington Wizards for Edwin Bancroft Henderson Memorial Fund to honor the “Grandfather of Black Basketball”

The memorial fund campaign publicly announced during sports complex naming ceremony

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) commemorated the legacy of its alumnus Dr. Edwin B. Henderson by naming its athletics facility to the Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson Sports Complex during a ceremony held at the Van Ness Campus.  In a surprise announcement, UDC accepted a $200,000 lead gift from the Leonsis Foundation and Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), the ownership group of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, WNBA’s Washington Mystics, NHL’s Washington Capitals and Capital One Arena, among additional sports and entertainment holding.  MSE is led by Founder & CEO Ted Leonsis. This leadership gift will fund the Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson Memorial Fund Campaign established by the UDC Foundation.

The naming ceremony marked the public launch of the Memorial Fund Campaign with a goal to raise $2 million to support capital upgrades to the sports complex, student scholarships and sports camps for youth.  The capital upgrades will fund the development of a life-size statue of Dr. Henderson, improvements to the Cleveland Dennard Plaza, creation of a memorabilia display case, renovations to the men’s athletic locker room and construction of a new track and field facility. The Fund was initially shared with alumni and University friends in early 2021 as a grassroots fundraising effort led by University Trustee Barrington Scott.  The Leonsis Foundation and Monumental Sports and Entertainment’s generous leadership gift kick-started the campaign’s public phase and will hopefully inspire others to give generously.

John Thompson III, Vice President of Player Development and Engagement for Monumental Basketball, supporting athletes from the Wizards, Mystics, NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go and the NBA 2K League’s Wizards District Gaming, attended the naming ceremony as a representative of Ted Leonsis, the Leonsis Foundation and Monumental Sports & Entertainment.  He made the gift announcement during the ceremony with a check presentation.

“A core tenet which we have built across Monumental Sports & Entertainment is to consistently utilize our tremendous platform to shine a light on trailblazing stories to further bind us through a common sense of history,” said MSE Founder & CEO Ted Leonsis. “Dr. E. B. Henderson was an exemplar leader for D.C. and for the sport of basketball and took all of his great learnings from the study of athletics and as a civil rights leader to bring change to our community. I am proud to personally kick-start this effort – joined by partners at MSE and the Washington Wizards – to permanently memorialize his impressive body of work so that future generations may remember and appropriately appreciate his tremendous contributions.”

Dr. Henderson is considered the “Grandfather of Black Basketball” for his legacy and contribution to sports in the District of Columbia.  He graduated in 1904 at the top of his class from the Miner Normal School, UDC’s predecessor institution.  Dr. Henderson was an American educator, pioneering athlete, referee, basketball organizer, recreation worker, physical fitness advocate and civil rights activist.  He was inducted posthumously into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the UDC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr. touched on the importance of honoring Dr. Henderson during Black History Month. “This was a celebratory moment for the University and for D.C. as a whole. Dr. Henderson has never been memorialized in his hometown,” said President Mason. “He was a quintessential student athlete and set the standard for greatness.  We want to teach our students about his legacy and guide them to become leaders like him.”

Dr. Henderson’s family members were in attendance, including his grandson Edwin Bancroft Henderson, II.  “Seeing my grandfather’s name on the sports complex makes me feel extremely proud,” stated Henderson.  “I have been working hard to get my grandfather his recognition, and it’s finally happening.”

UDC’s Vice President for Advancement and the UDC Foundation Rodney Trapp spoke about the Memorial Fund. “Dr. Henderson paved the path for generations of African Americans to learn the sport of basketball and take it to its highest level. He demonstrated the Pathways to Possible that UDC provides to the students it serves today,” said Trapp. “We hope that this gift from the Leonsis Foundation and Monumental Sports and Entertainment will be the first of many leadership gifts to support this new fund. ”

UDC invites everyone to consider a gift to support The Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson Memorial Fund Campaign.  The donations will help provide a path for students to get a college education and keep the memory of Dr. Henderson alive on campus.

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About the University of the District of Columbia: The only public university in the nation’s capital and the only urban land-grant university in the United States, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) committed to a broad mission of education, research and community service.  Established by abolitionist Myrtilla Miner in 1851, UDC offers workforce training, professional certification and 81 undergraduate and graduate degrees designed to create opportunities for student success.  The University is comprised of a Community College and Division of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning; School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; School of Business and Public Administration; College of Arts and Sciences, College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences and the David A. Clarke School of Law.  Learn more at udc.edu

About the UDC Foundation: For over 40 years, the UDC Foundation has been the University’s charitable partner—securing private funding and philanthropic support for student scholarships, faculty research, and program initiatives.  The University of the District of Columbia Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization, incorporated on March 15, 1978, in the District of Columbia and located in Washington.  The Foundation’s mission is to solicit funds for student scholarships and to advance and benefit the programs and mission of the University of the District of Columbia.  Chartered in 1974, the University, the only public institution of higher education in the District of Columbia, was the result of mergers of three institutions of higher learning.  The University is an urban land-grant institution of higher education that offers quality, affordable post-secondary education to District residents at the certificate, associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels.  Furthermore, the University is not only a graduate and baccalaureate degree-granting institution, it is also a community college with an open-door policy.  Learn more at udc.edu/foundation