Matthew Henson (Aug. 8, 1866 – March 9, 1955)
Born to sharecroppers on a farm in Nanjemoy, Md., Matthew Alexander Henson became the first African-American Arctic explorer, and is credited by many as the first man to reach the North Pole, in 1909.
Henson was an associate of the American explorer Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language. He was known as Peary’s “first man” when it came to tackling the arduous expeditions.