James Hensley, Port Pilot. Houston, Texas
Houston ship channel pilot Captain James Hensley has the daunting task of guiding giant ocean-going ships into and out of one of the world’s largest and busiest ports. The famous Houston Ship Channel is 52 miles long and in some places incredibly narrow. His is not a job for the faint of heart -- there is literally no room for mistakes! In this interview with folklorist Betsy Peterson, Captain Hensley talks about learning and practicing his highly-skilled occupation, his family’s longstanding maritime traditions, becoming one of the first African Americans to be officially credentialed as a captain, and the pride he takes in his work.