Barbara Hillary, First African-American Woman to Reach North Pole, Will Speak at Atheist Convention

The American Atheists’ 2014 Convention already features LGBT activist and NFL punter Chris Kluwe, Survivor: Philippines winner Denise Stapley, and Spin Doctors bass player Mark White:

Today, they’re adding two more exciting names to their slate:

The first is atheist Juan Mendez (below), the Democratic State Representative from Tempe, Arizona who delivered a godless invocation on the House floor back in May, much to a few of his colleagues’ chagrin.

The second is atheist Barbara Hillary.

Who’s Barbara Hillary? I wondered the same thing. And once I looked her up, I was amazed that I had never heard of her before. She’s incredible:

She’s the first African-American woman to reach the North Pole — a feat she accomplished at age 75 — and the first to reach both the North and South Poles!

The New Yorker published a short article about her in 2007:

The North Pole trek, which Hillary intends to undertake with an outfit from Georgia called Eagles Cry Adventures, will require of its participants, once they’ve been deposited on a moving ice floe by an MI-8 helicopter, eight to ten hours of skiing on three consecutive days. To prepare, Hillary has been engaging in what she calls “preventative maintenance.” She tried lugging a loaded-up plastic sled on the beach, but the sand shredded the bottom. Now she has settled on a regimen of increased vegetable consumption, vitamin intake, and treadmill-and-weight-lifting sessions at Cyberzone. (She used to box at a gym called Irish Ropes, but it closed.) She has been skiing at some slopes in New Jersey. There is nothing she’s afraid of, she said, except religious people.

Awesome :)

The convention takes place April 17-20 in Salt Lake City, Utah and registration is now open.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bitter Lizard

    The first black woman to reach the North Pole at age 75: “There’s nothing I’m afraid of except religious people.” Fuckin’ A. Billboard this, somebody.

    • GeraardSpergen

      At least make a meme we can post.

      • Bitter Lizard
        • Pepe

          Why is Cain creeping me all over the internetz today?

        • allein

          GAH! Don’t do that!!!

        • Tainda

          We can thank Hemant for posting this gif because it will haunt us for the rest of our lives!

          • Bitter Lizard

            I think I’m going to make a tiled wallpaper with just the right part of that .gif, maybe take a little LSD, see what happens…

            • Tainda

              You better have a sober buddy for that! I’m sober right now and I’m freaking out looking at it

  • Mitch

    Okay, I have eight months to find a way to get from DC to Salt Lake City for the convention. Looks like I’ll be Forrest Gump-ing (yep, turned that into a verb) it.

    • JA

      So in other words, you’re going to run nonstop until you get there? :P

    • cary_w

      Take the train! Amtrak can get you there with only one transfer in Chicago! It will take you three or four days to get there, but it would be an awesome trip, especially the day you’ll spend winding through the mountains of Colorado! And it’s certainly faster than running across the country. :-)

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Hillary sounds like an incredible woman. Are you certain about her religious disposition? Her Wikipedia page has some stuff about Sri Chimnoy.

    • Nick Fish

      We’re definitely sure. :-)

      • GubbaBumpkin

        Fantastic! Who are ‘we’?

        • Nick Fish

          “We” are American Atheists. Well, American Atheists staff anyway. ;-)

  • Tainda

    “She tried lugging a loaded-up plastic sled on the beach, but the sand shredded the bottom.”

    I will be 40 in 2 months. I bitch when my legs get tired while pedaling during my workout at night. She is AMAZING!

    The “There’s nothing I’m afraid of except religious people” quote is fantastic as well rofl I really did roll on the floor laughing :P

    • allein

      Now I feel even worse about how difficult I find it to get out to run.

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I want to be that lady when I grow up. ;) Heck, I want to be even a quarter as driven as her.

  • Mick

    Do Survivor entrants actually have some credibility left?

  • Carpinions

    Mark White is an atheist?! OK, the Spin Doctors have been what people would now call one of my guilty pleasure bands since Pocket Full of Kryptonite. I have all their albums except what appears to be their latest, released this year. Even saw them at the House of Blues in Chicago back in 02.

    • allein

      Now I have “Two Princes” stuck in my head.

      • Tainda

        I thought I was the only one

  • Christopher Borum

    Need a new picture of Kluwe, since he’s now a Raider. Couldn’t find any of the same type as his Vikes headshot, but here are some options:

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/e61377c0e20a3a31ae044e9c1e73f0a2/tumblr_mog3xkmml61rdimioo1_500.jpg

    http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/KluweOUT560.jpg

    • Tainda

      I vote for the bottom one. Call me crazy…

      Not to mention that I FRAKING hate the Raiders and it makes me want to weep that he is on that “team” now.

  • cary_w

    Wow! I so much want to go to this, especially to hear Hillary! She sounds awesome! I found this quote on her website:

    “People today think the world owes them something,” Hillary said. “The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. You get off your ass and you work.”

    She sounds like a fascinating person! I wonder if she’s any relation to Edmond Hillary? Same last name, same adventuresome spirit, it makes you wonder!

  • Agni Ashwin

    Hillary should try Mt. Everest next. Edmund would be proud.

  • Robster

    Will she be running for POTUS in 2016?

  • northierthanthou.com

    I like her already.


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