January 29, 2014
Black History Month is coming soon: Who started it?

Black History Month is getting closer…

Yesterday, I introduced Black History Month.  I discussed what this month is and means and all the ways great and small that people can celebrate this great month.  I also noted that everyone is invited to participate in Black History Month. It’s not just for African Americans but also for all cultures and ethnicities, genders, ages, and interests.

Today, I will discuss the person who initiated or founded Black History.

Have you heard of Dr. Carter G. Woodson?  Read on and be impressed!

Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875, the son of former slaves. As the eldest of nine children, he helped to support the family by working as a sharecropper. But he was always an avid reader and interested student.  He attended Douglass High School, the University of Chicago, and, in 1912, became the second African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. (W.E.B. Dubois was the first.)

Throughout his studies, he noticed that the contributions of African Americans were not discussed or taught in school. African American history was either missing or misrepresented in the educational systems.  He was determined to change this problem.

In 1915, he founded the Association for Negro Life, which later became the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.  In 1926, he started Negro History week, which was the second week of February.  Dr. Woodson chose that week because it coincided with the birthdays of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. He envisioned this week as a time for African Americans to learn about their history and culture.

He wrote more than a dozen books, including the iconic Mis-education of the Negro in 1933. This book, which is still required reading in universities, discussed how the educational system has failed to teach the contributions of African Americans to African Americans students and the detrimental effects of this policy.  He also wrote numerous works of literature to teach African American history to elementary and secondary school students.

His contributions and continuous commitment to teaching and legitimizing African American history and culture in the United States have made these subjects essential parts of educational curricula throughout the country. For this reason, he is known as the father of Black History.

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration that comes from teaching of biography and history. ~ Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Dr. Woodson died in 1950. In 1976, Negro History Week became Black History Month as African Americans started to embrace their culture and history.

This was the short story of Dr. Carter G. Woodson.  He also wrote the Negro National Anthem, which is a powerful and vivid reminder of how much progress African Americans have made in the United States.  Lift E’vry Voice and Sing!



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