February 1st marks the start of Black History Month! Black History Month is an annual celebration of Black achievements and contributions to society. We celebrate Black History month because the contributions of Black Americans have been downplayed, overlooked, and misrepresented. This month, and every day of the year, should be spent celebrating the achievements of Black inventors, scientists, activists, civil rights leaders, artists, musicians, and more.
To justify the injustice done the Negro, individuals…resort to malicious falsehood in saying that the Negro is an inferior race which has never developed a civilization…During Negro History Week attention is invited to the Negro in all parts of the world showing that even when in bondage the record made is not to be despisedDr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)
The first person I want to highlight this month is historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History. Born to formerly enslaved parents who could not read, Dr. Woodson worked on a family farm and in West Virginia coal mines while learning sporadically. He attended high school during his 20s and and obtained his BA degree from the University of Chicago and received his PhD from Harvard University.
Through the years, Dr. Woodson realized that the world needed a better understanding of the contributions done by black people onto society to counter racist misperceptions about their abilities. He devoted himself to teaching about Black History by various means. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which presently is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and created the first journal of black history, The Journal of African American History, alongside his colleagues.
He started the first Negro History Week in 1926 to ensure students would learn Black history. Schools and communities across America held events celebrating Black history. Teachers revised lesson plans to include Black history in their curriculums. From there, it grew exponentially into Black History Month which officially made its start in 1976. He had chosen February for the observance because February 12th was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 14th was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson died in 1950, but his legacy still lives on. Help promote his legacy by educating yourself on Black history! I will be including links to museums and online resources that might interest you. Also, I will be including a link to a list of documentaries about Black history.