Six Greenville-area public schools will celebrate African American History Month in February 2017 with Chautauqua performances of Matthew Henson, the first African American Arctic explorer, performed by historical interpreter Keith Henley. Greenville Chautauqua has organized these unique experiences for Carolina High School, Tanglewood Middle School, Welcome Elementary, Legacy Charter Elementary, Legacy Charter Middle School, and Legacy Charter High School. SC Humanities supported this project with a Mini Grant in December 2016.
Greenville Chautauqua’s mission is to bring history to life through the use of compelling storytelling and interactive theater where discussion and audience participation stimulates critical thinking. They present an annual June festival in Greenville, as well as programming throughout the year, including these school-based events. To learn more about Greenville Chautauqua, visit their website at: www.greenvillechautauqua.org.
Matthew Henson’s story is very interesting. On April 6, 1909, Henson along with Robert Peary and four Inuits were the first ever to reach the North Pole. Greenville Chautauqua explains: “This is the story of courageous men who used their wits, their drive, and their perseverance to journey into the unknown. It is also the story of the world they returned to. Peary was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery; Henson died in virtual poverty. Henson was an intrepid explorer in the Arctic, but at home he was the victim of the racism of his generation.” More than 1,000 students will benefit from seeing Keith Henley perform as Matthew Henson.
The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 23-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.