Mr. James E. Henson, Sr., has been a very lucky man. His aunt Eleanor McGuire Massie left him her house at 607 South Pitt Street. James and his wife, Ardene moved in the house in 2007. This house stands on the original spot of the first colored public school, Snowden School for Boys (1870 – 1916).
James was born into a family that has made many historical achievements. His mother’s uncle was the famous Matthew Alexander Henson who was an explorer with Robert Peary to the Arctic and the North Pole. In addition, James’s great-great uncle was Josiah Henson, whose life was depicted in the famous book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
James’ paternal aunt, Alice McGuire married the famous John A. Seaton who was the first African American Alderman in Alexandria. The famous 19th Century preacher, Reverend Samuel W. Madden, married all the McGuire women, Alice, Blanche, Louisa, and Nannie. He was the pastor at Alfred Street Baptist Church.
James E. Henson, Esq., has made his own achievements. He is a retired attorney. He was the first African American lawyer to serve as assistant county solicitor of Howard County and deputy director for the Maryland Commission on Human Relations. He has taught business law at Morgan State University and at Howard Community College in Maryland. Prior to his law career, Mr. Henson served twenty years in the United States Air Force, retiring as a master sergeant.
Mr. Henson was born in Alexandria in 1936. He graduated from Parker-Gray High School in 1954. He is the former president of Alexandria’s Departmental Progressive Club. In addition, he is one of the founders and a former president of the Alumni Association of Parker-Gray School. He was a chairman of the Charles Houston Ad Hoc Naming/Narrative Committee and the Change Agents for Historic Alexandria book project. He coauthor, “African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia: Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century.” To add on to his family’s achievements James E. Henson, Sr., became the 2019 Living Legend in Alexandria, Virginia.
You can read more about “Standing on Historical Land: James E. Henson, Esq.” in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper date July 1, 2020 on pages 6 and 12 at