It would be unfair to start our black history month celebrations without reflecting on the genesis of these occasion nor paying homage to those who made it possible! While its obvious today (with a black president) that African Americans have and continue to influence the history of America and that of the world; during the dawning decades of the twentieth century, that was not the case. Black people then had no history except that they had came to America as slaves. Well this was so until one brave man took it upon himself to change that! To expose that black Americans possesed a rich history and had been influential in the advancement of America as a country. Carter G. Woodson and the organization he founded (Association for the study of Negro life and history) to recognise the achievements of Black men and women ought to take a lot of credit for the evolving awareness of the true place of blacks in history. The organisation he founded is now called, the association for the study of African American life and history and Carter G. Woodson is today credited as the founder of Black history month.
Known widely as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson (1875-1950) was the son of former slaves. Although he wasn’t able to go to school until the age of 20, Woodson understood the importance of education to a black man in American. When he was finally able to start school, he became a committed young man and especially to his studies. Woodosn went on to earn a high school diploma in West Virginia, bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and in 1912 became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University only behind W.E.B. DuBois. Nothing was impossible to this man.
It was in 1926 though, that Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week. 5O years later, and 27 years after his passing, this celebration has expanded to include the entire month of February. Not only does it bring people of various social and ethnic backgrounds to celebrate black history, its success has inspired other countries such as Canada to also celebrate Black history in February. A similar celebration is done in Britain although not in February. Its understood that Dr. Woodson choose the month of February because its the birthday month of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The two of course having been instrumental in the abolition of slavery in America.
Other achievements of Dr. Woodson include but are not remitted to the following.
- Schools in America and Canada has now set aside a period each year (February) to focus on African American history.
- Founder of the Associated Publishers, a company which published books about Blacks that would otherwise not been published then. Also, the oldest African-American publishing company in the United States.
- He wrote and created the Negro History Bulletin, making it possible for elementary/high school teachers to easily en corporate African American history into their teachings.
- He also did a lot of research in the African American field.
- the Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, Putnam, 1915.
- A Century of Negro Migration, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 1918.
- The History of the Negro Church, Associated Publishers, 1921.
- The Negro in Our History, Associated Publishers, first edition, 1922.
- African Myths, Associated Publishers, 1928.
- The Rural Negro, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 1930.
- The Miseducation of the Negro, Associated Publishers, 1933.
- The African Background Outlined, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, 1936.
- African Heroes and Heroines, Associated Publishers, 1939.
In Honor of all the work Dr. Carter G. Woodson has done to promote the study of African
American History, an ornament of Woodson hangs on the White House’s Christmas tree each year.
“IF YOU CAN CONTROL A MAN’S THINKING, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HIS ACTIONS. IF YOU CAN DETERMINE WHAT A MAN THINKS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT HE WILL DO. IF YOU CAN MAKE A MAN BELIEVE THAT HE IS INFERIOR, YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMPEL HIM TO SEEK AN INFERIOR STATUS, HE WILL DO SO WITHOUT BEING TOLD AND IF YOU CAN MAKE A MAN BELIEVE THAT HE IS JUSTLY AN OUTCAST, YOU DON’T HAVE TO ORDER HIM TO THE BACK DOOR, HE WILL GO TO THE BACK DOOR ON HIS OWN AND IF THERE IS NO BACK DOOR, THE VERY NATURE OF THE MAN WILL DEMAND THAT YOU BUILD ONE.”DR CARTER G. WOODSON