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4 Famous African American Explorers You’ve Never Heard Of

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Matthew Henson the first first person to reach the North Pole

African Americans have made history in various fields such as science, sports, music, politics, and much more, but did you know that there are also some inspiring African American explorers who made awesome discoveries? If you don’t, you’re not alone.

It is not uncommon to heave learned nothing about the contributions of African American explorers, but we are here to give you some schooling on this fascinating subject. 

Here are the stories of just 4 of them.

Esteban or Estevanico lived between 1500 and 1539 and was the first documented enslaved African to arrive in Florida. Known by different names such as Esteban de Moor, Esteban de Dorantes, Mustafa Azemmouri, and Estebancito, the explorer had sub-Saharan origins and was born in Morocco. Esteban crossed the land that is modern day United States, traveling along the Southwest, towards the Pacific Ocean. An expedition that he guided in 1539 discovered Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and opened up the entire Southwest together with the states located west of Florida, up to the Pacific.

African american explorers, black explorers, famous explorers, black excellence, black travel Matthew Henson
Matthew Hanson was one of the very first people to ever reach the North Pole! Henson was only 13 when he joined a ship crew and began traveling the world. In 1909, together with famous explorer Robert Peary and few Inuit guides, Henson went on an expedition to Greenland. Their mission was to reach the North Pole. Although they were together on the expedition, Henson and his two Inuit guides got to the North Pole 45 mins ahead of Peary, making him possibly the first person to set foot on the North Pole. 

James Beckwourth
James Beckwourth had a major contribution to Western America’s early exploration. He was the only African American who documented and recorded his journey from Florida’s Everglades to the Pacific Ocean as well as from Canada’s south to Mexico’s north. Beckwourth worked on his autobiography between 1854 and 1855; the book was published in 1856 and entitled “The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth, Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians”.

African american explorers, black explorers, famous explorers, black excellence, black travel Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable
Renowned as the “Founder of Chicago”, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable is considered as Chicago’s first permanent and non-Indigenous resident. He is believed to have been born in modern day Haiti and moved up North through French Louisiana. By the year 1788, he established a farm in what later became Chicago and lived there together with his family, providing much-needed stability to the area.

African American explorers, black explorers, famous explorers, black excellence, black travelIf there’s one thing that not only the black community but the entire world should learn from these amazing explorers, it’s that courage, persistence, and determination will get you through anything.

Happy exploring, adventurers!