Home > Uncategorized > February 1 – Dr. Carter G. Woodson

February 1 – Dr. Carter G. Woodson

On this day, February 1, 1926, one man single-handedly initiated the first “Negro History Week.”  This would later be extended to the entire month of February and become Black History Month as we know it today.  Who was this man?…

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, to James and Elizae Riddle Woodson, both former slaves.  A firm believer in the value of education, James Woodson decided to move his family to West Virginia when he heard that Huntington was building a high school for blacks.

However, because the family was large and poor, Carter was unable to attend on a regular basis.  Despite this, Woodson self-mastered the fundamentals of common school subjects by age 17, and entered Douglass High School at the age of 20.  In less than 2 years, Carter received his diploma, began teaching in nearby Fayette County, and in only 3 years, returned as the principal of his former high school!  He would continue on this academic path to earn a Bachelor of Literature from Berea College Kentucky, a Master of Arts at the University of Chicago, and a PhD in History at Harvard University.

Convinced that the role of his own people in American history and in the history of other cultures had been repeatedly “overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them,” Woodson realized the need for research into the neglected past of African Americans. Along with William Hartgrove, Cleveland Hall, Alexander L. Jackson, and James E. Stamps, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History September 9, 1915, in Chicago.

A few months later, In January 1916, Woodson began publication of the scholarly Journal of Negro History. It has never missed an issue, despite the Great Depression, loss of support from foundations and two World Wars.  In 2002, it was renamed the Journal of African American History and continues to be published by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Woodson devoted much of his life to historical research and the preservation of the history of African Americans.  In the course of his research, he accumulated thousands of artifacts and publications which he worked into his six-volume Encyclopedia Africana.  Sadly, this work was not completed when he died on April 3, 1950, at the age of 74.  Nevertheless, Woodson’s work has inspired countless others to continue his quest to understand, recognize and appreciate the role of blacks in history.

Thanks for reading,

francis

Race prejudice is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.”   ~Dr. Carter G. Woodson

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