On August 6th, 1986 an article appeared in the Niagara Gazette about my family chronicling the ancestral link between Josiah Henson and then Niagara Falls Native, Inez Dorsey Frank; late mother of current Black Pioneers of Niagara Falls President Philip B. Frank, my Father. Before there was a Harriet Tubman, Josiah Henson was a forerunner of the Underground Railroad, a community activist, institution builder and great-grand uncle of the famous explorer Matthew Henson who traveled to the North Pole. It has also been said that Harriet Beecher Stowe interviewed Josiah Henson and used elements of his life used to write the famous novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.
So the next time you hear someone call someone an Uncle Tom, let them know what's real. Not knowing the actual character, contributions and courage of the man behind the fictitious name 'Tom' of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, is a tragedy.
*The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself
*The Niagara Gazette Special Supplement ('Freedom road to Niagara' August 6th, 1986)