Matthew Alexander Henson (August 8, 1866 – March 9, 1955) was an American explorer who accompanied Robert Peary on seven voyages to the Arctic over a period of nearly 23 years. They spent a total of 18 years on expeditions together. He is best known for his participation in the 1908-1909 expedition that claimed to have reached the geographic North Pole on April 6, 1909. Henson said he was the first of their party to reach the pole. Henson was born in Nanjemoy, Maryland, to sharecropper parents who were free people of color before the Civil War. He spent most of his early life in Washington, D.C., but left school at the age of twelve to work as a cabin boy. He later returned to Washington and worked as a salesclerk at a good department store. One of his customers was Robert Peary, who in 1887 hired him as a personal valet. At the time, Peary was working on the Nicaragua Canal. Their first Arctic expedition together was in 1891–92. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, and was known as Peary’s “first man”. Like Peary, he studied Inuit survival techniques.
Destination Freedom – Arctic Biography: The Story Of Mathew Henson (August 22, 1948)
Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was an African-American dancer and singer who was “the most successful music hall performer ever to take the stage” (Ebony magazine). Josephine Baker was larger than life: She was the toast of Paris in the 1920s with her trademark banana skirt, a star of stage and […]Read More
(The Forgotten Four (clockwise from top left): Marion Motley, Bill Willis, Kenny Washington, Woody Strode) The story of how Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 is the stuff of legend. But there’s another story about the desegregation of a professional sport that hardly gets told. A year before Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, […]Read More