Enlightening if vaguely documented accounts of black explorers of the American continent, the North Pole, and space, emphasizing the barriers of race that they overcame. After quoting early Arab documents to show that the emperor of ancient Mall (an accomplished African civilization) sent a large fleet across the Atlantic in the 13th century, Haskins speculates that this led to ""negroid"" features in some Mayan sculptures, similarities between African and American languages, and rumors that helped to inspire Columbus. ""It is likely that Columbus had with him either black seamen or black slaves who had knowledge of the ocean and the lands beyond it."" Other better-known explorers included here are Estevanico (explorer of New Mexico), Jean Point du Sable (founder of Chicago), York (a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition), James Beckwourth (a half-black mountain man), George Bush (the first American settler in Washington territory), Matthew Henson, and Guion Bluford (the first black astronaut). Most entries are exciting accounts with substantial quotations from early journals, but their power is somewhat diminished by the many extraneous details, while astronaut Ronald McNair's story seems tacked on as an afterthought. Still, the inspirational value balances any stylistic shortcomings. Bibliography; index. B&w photos not seen.