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This program was produced by WB Geo for national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. The struggle for freedom in the 18th century the struggle for freedom in the 20th Negro Americans that helped make American history. These are a few of the travellers along that Glory Road. Than. Glory Road the stories of Negro Americans who have shared in the building of our nation. Today. Matthew Hanson. In the spring of 1998 a wealthy New York businessman is working at his office desk when a man. In the doorway stands a man in naval officers uniform on his sleeve. The three gold stripes of a commander in the United States Navy His name Robert
Perry. You asked to see me sir. Come in Commander Perry come right in here have a seat. Thank you. I'll come directly to the point. I decided to finance your expedition by Jove that is good news sir now or you'll have to do is find the North Pole. We've got to make it this time sir. How soon can you get underway within a month. Matt Henson is lining up supplies right no Han son. You met him when you came aboard the ship sir. Your servant. Henson is my assistant sir. Your assistant in the expedition you serve. Then Hanson it's a college band like the others. No he's not. But he has scientific training no formal training. Then why in thunderation would you want him as your assistant. Because he's the best man for the job. But but that's incredible. He's a negro. We also have Eskimos working for us in the Arctic. That's different. Not at all. We simply choose the best man for each job Piri.
I'm risking a large sum of money on your expedition if you insist upon Hansen as your assistant I shall withdraw my financial aid. Then I bid you good day sir. You mean you would throw aside my offer just to keep Henson sir. I need your backing but I also need Matthew Hanson. I certainly can't figure out why. Will you let me tell you why. Then let's go back about twenty years. Around the year 1887 I was a naval engineer in Nicaragua. We were surveying for a cross-continental can now there were a thousand problems on the job jungle country heat and bugs and rain. But back at my camp I could always count on one calm patient efficient man. My own personal servant Matthew Hanson. But somehow I never really got to know Matt until the day we were packing to return to the states. Then in a burst of confidence I told him about the ambition of my life. The North Pole that I hear you correctly looked kind of. Why shouldn't I think about the North Pole. I suppose a lot of people thought about it but where is the North Pole. What is it.
Those are precisely the questions I intend to answer. Well it's quite a challenging time period. Climate is always a challenge and that darkness the unknown even just the effort to survive in the cold. Are you speaking from experience Matt. Well in a way I ship aboard a square rigger when I was 14 years old. One winter we were locked in the ice Believe me lieutenant. I learned a lot about what cold can do to a man. You never told me this before Matt. Well you never asked me the force or not. Let me show you something here. Look at this map. Here's Greenland. Greenland is the key to finding the North Pole. I propose to lead an expedition to Greenland by ship at the first day age. We will sail as far north as we can. Then you will stop was a base camp. Right you only dogs and sleds to go further north precisely. LIEUTENANT. It's not possible you might meet me at the North Pole and I don't need scientists. I'm looking for college man. You'll need someone to cook to mend to help build those sleds and I
couldn't pay you a salary. The U.S. Navy pays you on this job but the Arctic expedition will be a shoestring operation. But what about the others volunteers. Everyone will be a volunteer who turnip theory. You got yourself another volunteer. If you'll have me do you realize you'd be the low man on this expedition lieutenant. Just tell me when we leave for Greenland. I had made a promise but later I began to wonder what Henson's fate would be when we got underway. In Greenland in 1891. I had my answer but we're working as fast as we can. Bob if you don't get the job finished your ship will be stuck here on the coast of Greenland until spring. Yes I'm aware of that. HANSEN What do you think you're doing. Well I just thought I might lend a hand here do your job not the captain will do his.
Captain why don't you try Eskimo workers because they're stupid and lazy and by our standards perhaps. But we're in their world now. He's got something there. I have no intention Let's see what happens. Send out a call for Eskimo workers. Here come the Eskimos lieutenant. I hope you're right about the math but let's wait and see. Look the first fellow smiling and pointed at you in your way and you wish you were. What's he saying. Ah he keeps repeating the name of one of the local Eskimo tribes the Innuit. Now come on he says you're not a white man. Lieutenant I think I'm an Eskimo. Of course they've never seen a negro. You know your other Eskimo tribe you speak other language right. Faraway tribe far to south along the way. I and you you meet cow look what he's calling you his brother Pollock polo.
Well you've got to have much to learn from the Eskimos and not who picked up their language quickly learned well. That was the job of fishing through the ice. Every time I got up I could kind of the wind pull the line and the fish get away. All right now let's forget about the fish for now and a while was mean again I was wrong to chop wrong so I swallow. This quite. Soon you're more stalking yourself people don't hold water as me. One hand hold harness another. Swing harness like this. This is where you build a good one with a country. That had found a friend. And perhaps a way to reach that North Pole.
Yeah. When I look back now I live again from those difficult years when we failed to reach the pole. Year after year we pushed just a bit closer to our goal. And year after year one man was there beside me. Resourceful. Ingenious. Dependable. Not handsome. Commander you're not going to give up now. You heard what the doctor said. Amputation. Well that's what he said back in 1992. Your feet were badly frostbitten and eight toes had to go and now seven years later the remaining two. But that doesn't mean that have you ever heard of a toll this explorer. But you can't let out I can't ride to the North Pole commander if you all stop thinking about yourself for a minute I'd like to ask a few questions to complete my notes. Go ahead. Our records show we've gone as far as 87 degrees six minutes other north than
anyone else has ever gone yes. Less than 200 miles from the pole not open water stopped us last time. If only there was the story of everything here. If supplies are our biggest problem. We've had too long a hole too late to change that now. Sir have a look at this map. If we could push our ship north as far as Cape Sheraton we could spend the winter there. What would be the advantage. Well the man could shuttle supplies back and forth from Sharon to Cape Columbia. Let's have a look at that. If they could transport supplies to Columbia we'd have a base only 150 miles from where I think the pole is located. Exactly. Traffic between Sheridan and Columbia would help to keep the trail open. By Jove how about a commander in two years in one thousand eight. My toes Matt. You forgot my toes. Commander you spent almost 20 years dreaming and planning and working up here in subzero climate. Back in 99 you learned to walk again. You
get busy and learn to walk again now. You can walk to that pole. Maybe I catch course you can. We need more money. We couldn't start out again without a backer. Commander you'll find someone who has faith in you. Anyone who knows you would know some day you're going to nail the stars and stripes to the North Pole. I hope you're right Matt. Oh I hope you're right. I did learn to walk again and I'm ready now for that last lap to the North Pole. I owe it to everyone who has had faith in me especially to one man who has served me serve the cause of science and serve the cause of his own race. No I won't go without him. Somehow I've got to find a way out. Stop right there Commander. There you have my promise and my signature. I'll back your expedition. I'm convinced now that I won't give you were sent unless you do take Hanssen along. He's the man for the job all right. Now both of you get
under way. The whole world is waiting to find out what's up there at the North Pole. The. Man was a man. September 5th 1988 we've reached the edge of a policy that is supervising the building of new sleds. Each will carry 650 pounds of supplies. March twenty eight thousand nine hundred nine. The day we passed our previous record the rest of the men will turn back now and head south for camp while we push our northward April 1st 99 87 degrees 47 minutes north. Matt and I are alone now with our four Eskimo helpers. If preferred. We are making 25 miles a day across unexplored ice. And perform if our calculations are correct. The patient died only 60 miles away. Hebrews 6.
Today we have made a four hour march. We were weary and hungry and cold. Yeah we hope we are heading. Back. Under. For 24 hours our shadows have been exactly the same one. I've just taken. Baron's mad and 89 degrees 57 minutes. Nash. This is it. Sir will you give the order. Run up the flag of United States match. We reach the. North Pole. Well. This was the story of a great book called for courage. This too was the story of a man of courage. An American hero. The nation's highest award the Congressional Medal of Honor. For. This program. Matthew Henson in the series Glory Road was written by Jean Ickes
heard in the casket. And Matthew Hanson your announcer has been Joan Pollack a grant from the National Home Library Foundation has made possible the production of this program for national educational radio national educational radio network.
The glory road
Matthew Henson
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on arctic explorer Matthew Henson.
Series Description
The stories of African-Americans who have helped make the United States what it is today.
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Race and Ethnicity
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Writer: Ikes, Gene
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-9-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:15:33
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Chicago: “The glory road; Matthew Henson,” 1966-02-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “The glory road; Matthew Henson.” 1966-02-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: The glory road; Matthew Henson. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from