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Article-a-Day #48: Smithsonian-George Washington Gibbs Jr. Defied Danger and Racism to Become the First African-American to Visit Antarctica

It was aboard this pitching vessel—the USS Bear—that a young, winsome mess attendant named George Washington Gibbs Jr. put in long days to provide meals for the crew (when they could keep them down) and fought to launder and clean despite a dearth of fresh or warm water. Gibbs, selected from many eager candidates to join famed explorer Admiral Richard Byrd’s third expedition to Antarctica, would achieve a historic first when they arrived on the Ross Ice Shelf on January 14, 1940, becoming the first African-American to set foot on the frozen continent.