The Story

We are All Antarctica is a story about my father George W. Gibbs, Jr’s adventures as the first person of African descent to set foot on the continent of Antarctica. He sailed on the famous ship the USS Bear in 1939 to 1941 on Admiral Byrd’s III expedition to the South Pole. It was the first joint venture with the US military and private exploration. Gibbs went on to serve humanity in countless ways, paving the way for not only people of color in the community of Rochester, MN but for all people to become more human, serve their community and appreciate differences.

Through compassion, tenacity, faith and countless hours in the trenches, Gibbs’ life is a model for community service, equality and fun. As the lowest rank on the ship, he was honored for his contribution at a time when people with dark skin were considered less than human.

This story integrates my experiences with natural healing, the arts, the science of the ice, the metaphysics of the South Pole and the history of the expedition and its mystery.

Monday, November 7, 2016

What Happens Inside of Us Affects the Whole Planet

It's a challenge to summarize how I feel the day before the 2016 election.  The stress of the moment, the anxiousness of the world and the extreme differences in desires, weigh heavy on my soul.

I could talk about the exciting (bear) Cubs win. Or the ship (USS Bear), a famous 68 year old wooden sailing vessel that carried men safely to Antarctica and back. Or the Arctic polar bears endangered because the sea ice is melting. What does Bear medicine have to tell us?

Be in silence, nurture your receptive side, seek and find your own answers, take action on your creative projects and tear down the illusions of this physical world.

Here's my reflection.

It's election day 1916. George Washington Gibbs, Sr. votes for his Presidential candidate, Charles Evan Hughes. Hughes is a middle of the road Republican. As governor of New York, Hughes was a champion of progressive causes.  GWGibbs Sr. is disappointed that a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, wins the election.  So, on 11/7/1916, he changes his new son's name from Charles E. Hughes to George Washington Gibbs, Jr.

GWGibbs Jr., goes on to have an extraordinary life in the military, politics, corporate management, community leadership, entrepreneurship and family.  At his birthday party (election day 11/7/2000),
George happily passes away thinking his candidate, Al Gore, wins the election. A political animal until death.

As I publicly acknowledge my father's 100th birthday, I wonder:

What history will we make on election day 2016?
How will our fate change?
What dreams wake, regardless of who wins?
And what is the golden thread that continues 100 years from now, in spite of our human drama?

What happens tomorrow affects the entire human race. What happens on Antarctica is the result of our actions. We are All Antarctica.
Leilani Henry at Holy Trinity Church (Russian: Церковь Святой Троицы), a small Russian Orthodox church on King George Island © Leilani Henry
George W. Gibbs Jr. aboard the USS Bear 1940 © Leilani Henry

George W. Gibbs, Jr. 100th Birthday. He was the first person of his race to set foot on Antarctica.

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