By Megan Eichenberg
More than 70 years before the Washington Wizards became the city’s first NBA franchise, Edwin Bancroft Henderson introduced basketball to the district’s African Americans. Known as the “Father of Black Basketball,” Henderson is one of several subjects profiled by the Wizards in a series of in-game Black History Month video tributes that honor figures who have positively influenced local society.
In addition to basketball the sequence profiles figures across four other pillars, including military and veterans, hunger and homelessness, health and fitness and education and scholarships.
The Wizards also celebrate Black History Month through This Day in Black History. The video series presents the stories of many notable figures in African American history, including the first African American baseball announcer for the New York Yankees and the first African American admitted to a White House press conference, among others.
Additionally the Wizards partnered with Amtrak to present the Pioneer Award to three local citizens. The award recognizes African Americans within the Washington, D.C., metro area who have positively impacted the communities in which they live.
In a special message from head coach and general manager Trudi Lacey, the Washington Mystics pay tribute to the month as well. In a video available online, Lacey reflects on an experience growing up in the South and remarks on the progress society has made since then.
The Washington Capitals also emphasized the significance of Black History Month as they participated in the league-wide Hockey is for Everyone initiative, which promotes diversity in the sport. Assistant coach Dean Evason, forward Joel Ward and defenseman Roman Hamrlik recently visited Washington, D.C.’s Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, exposing the predominately African American student body to hockey and instructing them on technique. Click here to view a video recap on the event.
The Capitals continued celebrating diversity on Hockey is for Everyone night during their Feb. 28 game against the New York Islanders. Attendees from Thurgood Marshall Elementary School as well as the Fort Dupont Ice Arena Kids on Ice program viewed the game from the Green’s Gang and Ovi’s Crazy 8s sections. In addition members of Kids on Ice met with on-ice officials through Zebras Care, a National Hockey League Officials Association program that provides children with the opportunity to meet officials and attend a NHL game.