April 28, 2017
African American / Black Explorers pt. 1 Internet vol -1
THE BLACK EXPLORER
Matthew Alexander Henson was born August 8 , in Nanjemoy Maryland . History notes that his parents where of African / Black decent and worked as sharecroppers, which was not uncommon during that time.
Although born in Maryland early accounts of his life can be traced back to Washington , D.C. research records there show that Henson dropped out of school to be a sales clerk.
As fate would have it one of his customers was a well known Arctic explorer by the name of Robert Peary. In 1887 Peary Hired Henson as a personal valet.
Henson’s titles where that of craftsman ,navigator and ” first man ” together they spent 18 years on expeditions. History notes that there first Arctic expedition was in ( 1891 -92 ) .
For a short time nothing note worthy could be found. Until 1908- 09 when more accounts where found indicating that while on a expedition to Greenland , with four Inuit assistants Peary and himself Henson claimed that he was the first to reach the North Pole.
His claim was accepted until 1989 , Some 70 plus years latter a research published by Wally Herbert claimed that the expedition records could have been falsified.
According to his records Henson and the expedition had missed the pole by 97 ( km ) or 60 miles . Although these claims by Herbert nor that of Henson has really never been proven, Henson received a great deal of attention and fame for his participation in the expedition.
In 1912 Henson published a memoir titled ” A Negro Explore at the North Pole. In 1937 Henson became the first Black / African American to become a life member of the Explorers Club.
As a result of his work Henson was honored by being awarded the Perry Polar Expedition medal in 1944 , and was received at the White House by then President Harry Truman and [ VP ] Dwight Eisenhower .
After some years Henson was elevated to the club’s highest level of membership.
SoulTic Magazine Salutes Matthew Alexander Henson for being a pioneer by way of exploration.