Black Men In History Series: Carter G. Woodson
Updated: Feb 19
We can't let Black History Month go by and not celebrate the man that started Black History Month in the first place.
As one of the first scholars to study African-American History, Carter G. Woodson has been called the "father of black history". In February 1926 he launched the celebration of "Negro History Week", the precursor of Black History Month.
He was an American historian, author, and journalist. Carter G. Woodson devoted his life to historical research and was convinced that the role of his own people in American history and in the history of other cultures was being ignored or misrepresented among scholars. Woodson realized the need for research into the neglected past of African Americans.
One of the biggest things that I liked about this Black Man in History, was that he believed that education and increasing social and professional contacts among blacks and whites could reduce racism and he promoted the organized study of African-American history partially for that purpose.
This brilliant Black Man has done many things for African American History, education, and history period. I just wanted to highlight these notable things:
Woodson was born in New Canton, Virginia on December 19, 1875, the son of former slaves, Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson. His parents were both illiterate and his father supported the family as a carpenter and farmer. Woodson was often unable to regularly attend primary school because he had to help out on the farm. Nonetheless, through self-instruction, he was able to master most school subjects.
As a teenager, he was forced to work as a coal miner to earn income. It wasn't until the age of 20 that he was able to attend secondary education and received a High School Diploma in 1897. Carter went on to receive a bachelor's of Literature at Berea College and a A.B. and A.M. at the University of Chicago.
He worked to preserve the history of African Americans and accumulated a collection of thousands of artifacts and publications. He noted that African-American contributions "were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them." Race prejudice, he concluded, "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."
In1926, Woodson pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week", designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The Black United Students and Black educators at Kent State University expanded this idea to include an entire month beginning on February 1, 1970. Beginning in1976 every US president has designated February as Black History Month.
One of the most notable quotes from Carter G. Woodson is, "Let us banish fear. We have been in this mental state for three centuries. I am a radical. I am ready to act, if I can find brave men to help me".
I salute this Black Man in History and his contributions to America.