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An editorial by Bradley Robinson

Is this hate literature?
Or a deliberate attempt to destroy an African American hero?


Bryce never knew Henson or anyone who did. The librarian set out to write a biography of the criminal who ruined the achievements of Henson & Peary, and claims that he "...has been a scholar of the subject for more than twenty-five years...". Yet he never interviewed any primary source, and never interviewed any of the Peary or Henson descendants. Bryce failed to interview Henson's biographer who wrote Dark Companion with Matt. In fact, the librarian seems to prefer only non-living sources of information from the diaries of disgruntled Peary employees or Henson critics. He dismisses Matt's official biography as "fiction", and Henson as a liar and braggart. If that isn't racist, then I don't know what would be.
Typical example
If Vehoeff, who referred to Henson as "the nigger", wrote Matt's date of birth incorrectly as 1869 instead of 1866 Bryce interprets that as meaning Henson didn't know when he was born. Whoa!
Self proclaimed "polar authority", in fact only a librarian, Bryce argues that Henson was barely literate. His evidence for this? He cites an 1891 Christmas event when the men were given books as presents. Matt was given a harmonica. To librarian Bryce this is evidence that Henson couldn't read. Then what is Matt doing here (right) in this photo taken the same year? Is he reading the instruction manual for his harmonica?

I knew this photo existed, but what about all the people who read Bryce's remarks and never see this photo? It is obvious, to me, that Bryce goes far out of his way to find every little bit of dirt to throw at Henson in an effort to muddy his legendary status. Does that strike you as a bizarre thing to do?

(left) Henson was listed as an assistant in Peary's 2-volume Northward Over The Great Ice. Other member shown are all from the 1891-92 expedition.

Bryce uses Henson put-down by known bigot
Bryce concludes his "bully pulpit" attack on Henson by throwing in a quote from Marie Stafford "there was nothing exceptional about Henson". In fact, there was only one thing exceptional about Marie Stafford, (aside from the fact that she was not a witness on any of the North Pole expeditions and therefore her opinion on Henson has no bearing) Marie Peary-Stafford was a bigot.

In fact she was known for her disdain of Negroes and of Eskimos, too, by the way. Her husband, a Stafford, taught law school at Washington's Howard University, an all black college. Peary's grandson told me that she used to complain when he came home that "You smell like those Negroes you teach." When he said "Marie, they are just as good as you and I are." Marie retorted in her characteristic manner "They may be just as good as you are!" I offer this not to embarrass the Peary family, but leave you with a factual explanation to put this in a proper context.

Ask yourself, is this "hate literature"? I do not know how else to categorize it. Bryce deliberately used comments from a known racist simply to "put down" Henson.
Is this Matthew Henson reading the instruction manual for his harmonica?
Henson, 1891, first Greenland expedition with Peary.
Not once in those despicable 38 pages of slurs against Matt does librarian Bryce quote the opinions of the famous men who called Henson a friend. In the event that you want to remember why Matt was so famous, so well loved - read this page.
By the way, the reason they gave Matt the harmonica was obvious; Matt had rhythm.
(just kidding)


In fact Matt traded the Harmonica to Dr. Cook for a book. Cook made such horrible noises on the instrument that the Eskimos threw it in the ocean.
(just kidding)

A negative version of Matt's precious, but public domain, autobiography
I believe Robert Bryce's 38 page introduction tries to convince you that Henson was just a dumb Negro who lied about his accomplishments with Peary.
I believe this anti-Henson position is racist
.
A Negro Explorer at the North Pole

ISBN: 0815411251 Cooper Square Press 2001
Do you want to expose your students to this? 
In my opinion it is hate literature.

If any book by Robert M. Bryce is in your school library, we will replace it free of charge with your choice of a Henson book upon receiving the ones you take out of circulation. We will exchange with your library a maximum of three books. You may choose Dark Companion, A Negro Explorer, or North Pole Legacy (2001 edition by Allen Counter)
Contact us for details.

A "bully pulpit" introduction
by Bradley Robinson
Junior college librarian Robert Bryce first made slurs about Matthew Henson in his anti-Peary/anti-Henson book Cook & Peary (1997). This pretentiously title work is actually about the career criminal, Fred Crook, who committed fraud claiming to have reached the North Pole before Henson & Peary.

In 2000 junior college librarian Bob Bryce reprinted Peary's 1910 book The North Pole (now in public domain) with his own long winded "introduction". Bryce used Peary's own book as his platform to lay out the same tired old anti-Peary/anti-Henson slander.

The "New" 38 page introduction by a junior college librarian from Maryland presents every negative slur or bit of gossip dredged up from known racists & bigots. Dedrick, who Peary accused of megalomania, molesting Eskimo girls, and who apparently hated Henson has been declared a racist by Dr. Counter - yet Bryce uses Dedrick's account of an event as "truth" and Matt Henson's account as "false". From this Bryce decides that everything Henson said was so false that his biography, Dark Companion, is a fantasy. This "new" introduction is merely comprised of recycled, negative spin material from COOK & PEARY.

Bryce dominates this "new edition" of Matt's classic 1912 book, which is public domain. There was no imperative to publish this. There were already two other excellent editions on the market. Who needs a third?

Bryce burdens Matt's book with an incredibly nasty, long winded, 38-page "introduction" of put downs recycled from Cook & Peary. These were selected from diaries of men who were jealous of Matt, from known bigots and racists, etc.  I view it as Bryce's "bully pulpit" to attack both Peary and Henson. Bryce wants readers to know he believes Henson was too ignorant to write his own book. He further claims that Henson inflated his importance so that his official biography, written with Henson in 1947, is a work of fiction and a useless fantasy. That is a disgusting thing to say about Henson.

Bradley Robinson, January, 2002

Bradley is the son of Bradley Robinson who wrote, with Matthew Henson in 1947, the only official Henson biography; Dark Companion. Bradley's father knew Henson intimately, knew his Polar team mate and friend Donald MacMillan, Peter Freuchen, and other famous Arctic men who spoke highly of Henson. Bradley is a friend of the Robert E. Peary family, the Greenland Henson families, Admiral Davies son Douglas R. Davies, and contemporary Arctic legend Paul  Landry.