Summary of Three Alexandria Gazette Articles in December 2020

Char McCargo Bah

When an elder leave this world, he takes his history library with him. Mr. James E. Henson died on December 13, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia. He shared his knowledge that he gained from his elders with others. I was one of those individuals who he shared a great deal of history of what he knew and what he gained from his elders.

Now Mr. Henson has joined his elders and left the rest of us to inspire generation after us. He left us a priceless gift of self and history. He made room for us to do the same. He was one of a kind. Many will miss Mr. Henson.

His viewing with be on January 7, 2021 at Green Funeral Home at 814 Franklin Street between the hours of 2-8 pm. You can read his story by Jeanne Theismann at

The second article is on one of Parker-Gray High School’s finest women runners, Marian Stanfield a 1964 graduate of Parker-Gray High School.

On the same page as Marion Stanfield, is the third article about, ‘Parker-Gray Alumni 40 Plus Years of Giving Scholarships’ monies. The PG Alumni recently announced that they are retiring the organization so this will be the last official scholarships given out to new recipients. You can find these articles on page 14 at –

I would like to wish all my readers, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year. I look forward in continuing to bring you, local stories of African Americans in Alexandria who made accomplishments and a difference in their community.

I would also like to thank all the individuals who took the time in 2020 to write my editor about the stories that I wrote. I truly feel grateful that I have been able to highlight Alexandria African Americans’ accomplishments. I deeply appreciated that my readers enjoyed taking this history tour with me in learning so many stories of the forgotten histories of our community. Thank you and be safe!


Behind the Scene of the article “Standing on Historical Land: James E. Henson, Esq.”

From left to right: James E. Henson Jr., Deardria Henson, Sharon Henson and James E. Henson Sr.

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

Announcing a New Blog

Authors of African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century

A new blog is available for the authors of a new book “African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia: Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century.” Please visit their blog at Click on the different sections About, Contact Us, and Calendar of Events. Do not forget to order the book and come back to the blog for a book discussion. If you want to invite the authors for a lecture and book signing, go to “Contact Us” on their Blog and send an e-mail. Thanks!

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