Recently, the Ambassador Bridge, a major United States-Canada border crossing, was blocked by truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The longest international suspension bridge in the world, the Ambassador Bridge is also one of the busiest and most economically significant bridges in the Western Hemisphere. As protests prompted discussions about its critical value to international economies, the critical value of Cornelius Langston Henderson—the Black man largely responsible for its design and construction—was exemplified.
Henderson, a 1911 engineering graduate of Michigan State University, endured tremendous challenges to complete his education amidst a racially hostile and isolated learning environment. It turns out that because white classmates excluded Henderson from established peer learning processes, he became a fiercely independent student who depended solely on himself to learn civil engineering skills. As a result, Henderson reportedly graduated with exceptional proficiencies in mechanical engineering and architectural design, with heightened knowledge of steel construction.
Despite rampant racial discrimination, Henderson’s exceptional engineering competencies secured him employment with the Canadian Bridge Company where he was eventually appointed Chief Structural Steel Designer. In that capacity, he played a leading role in the construction of the Ambassador Bridge. Thereafter, Henderson’s advanced skills in structural steel design made him a highly sought-after civil engineer around the world.
Click below to learn more about Cornelius Langston Henderson, the extraordinary engineer whose genius is prominently displayed as the Ambassador bridge.
BONUS VIDEO: Click below to view the amazing video about Henderson’s little known, yet incredible legacy.