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School Named after Black American Antarctic Explorer George W. Gibbs Jr.

The first black explorer to set foot on the Antarctic ice shelf garnered a posthumous honor August 5, when the school board of Rochester, Minnesota, confirmed the name of the George W. Gibbs Jr. Elementary School.

George Washington Gibbs Jr. was born on Nov. 7, 1916, in Jacksonville, Florida.  He was also raised in that port city and many years of his life were connected with service at sea.

Enlisting in Macon, Georgia, in 1935, four years later Gibbs was chosen from of hundreds of applicants for the 1939-41 US Antarctic Expedition.  Serving as a Mess Attendant 1st Class aboard the Bear, Gibbs attracted official attention before the ship ever departed American shores:

Especially commended by the Commanding Officer at meritorious mast for his zeal, initiative, and untiring industry, entailing much personal sacrifice, during the period the U.S.S. BEAR was outfitting and preparing for duty with the U.S. Antarctic Service.

On the morning of Jan. 14, 1940, the Bear dropped anchor in the Bay of Whales

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, Aug 22nd, 2008:

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What a nicely written aritcle!  I thank you for that.  Being married to George for 47 years was an aadventure in itself.  One of the things that impressed me during our years together came at the end.  George was diagnosed as terminal in August of 2000.  That was a national eletion year - as you know - 8 years ago.  He was born on election day and died on election day. He was very political minded and even though he died on that day - he had cast an absentee ballot.  (of course - although he was terminal - he did not know just when the final day would be.) Voting is a privilege that we - as Americans - have.  I remember when voting wasn’t a privilege for everyone because of poll tax.  Poll tax prevented many from exercising this privilege.  Even when you got to the point that maybe you could pay the poll tax - a certain percentage had to be paid of the back poll tax which had never been paid before.  Many never voted until the tax was abolished - simply because they couldn’t afford to pay.

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