Friday, February 1, 2008

Black History Month

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Well once again it is February, the designated month for the celebration of Black History. I always wondered why this event is relegated to the shortest month of the year (it could have at least taken place in a month with 30 days), but I digress. Since today is the official kick off of the festivities I thought I would provide some background information about Black History month and its founder Carter G. Woodson.

“Those who have no record of what their forbearers have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history”.

These are the words of Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875 - April 1950). Carter G. Woodson believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in our country. He strongly believed that Black history - which others have tried so diligently to erase - is a firm foundation for young Black Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.

The celebration of Black history was established at first as a week long celebration by Carter G. Woodson in 1926 and for many years the second week of February was set aside to commemorate the accomplishments and achievements of people of African descent. The second week of February was significant because it coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

Born in Buckingham Co., VA He entered high school at the age of 20 and taught elementary school for two years after his graduation. Woodson later studied at Berea College, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University, receiving a Ph.D. degree from Harvard in 1912. He was dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Howard University from 1919 to 1920 and of West Virginia Institute (now West Virginia State College) from 1920 to 1922.

Woodson devoted his life to making “the world see the Negro as a participant rather than as a lay figure in history.” To this end he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915; founded and edited the Journal of Negro History from 1916 – 1950; organized the first annual Negro History Week in 1926; and founded the Negro History Bulletin, a monthly in 1937. Among his many books are Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915), History of the Negro Church (1921), and The Rural Negro (1930).

Known as the "Father of Black History," Carter G. Woodson holds an outstanding position in early 20th century American history. Whether it's called Black history, Negro history, Afro-American history, or African American history, his philosophy has made the study of Black history a legitimate and acceptable area of intellectual inquiry. Dr. Woodson's concept has given a profound sense of dignity to all Black Americans.


Malcolm said...

Thanks for posting this! I used to be skeptical about why they chose the shortest month to honor Black history, until a few years ago when I found out Dr. Woodson's reason for selecting February.

pjazzypar said...

Hey Malcolm, you are welcome. These are the kinds of things that should be taught in elementary school to instill a sense of pride in our young people. I had to read about Dr. Woodson and many others as an adult. It is such a pity because elevating self-esteem elevates the capacity to learn and changes the school environment from one of indifference and apathy to one where children actually look forward to learning.