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From the Pastor and First Lady’s Heart
February is observed as “Black History Month” in America. Its precursor, “Negro History Week,” was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926 and observed on the second week of February. A staunch Republican, Woodson chose that week in that month to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Woodson created Negro History Week because Black Americans and their accomplishments were largely left out of the educational curricula of that time. Where Blacks were mentioned it was usually very demeaning imagery or discriminatory ideas.
Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro (now African-American) Life and History in 1915 and the Journal of Negro History in 1916. He was dedicated to helping educate Black and White Americans about Blacks and their accomplishments and potential in a way that would benefit everyone. His weeklong observance was expanded to become Black History Month—officially recognized by the U.S. government—in 1976.
Woodson never intended Black history to be about Black firsts and a parade of Black icons. As a scholar, Woodson intended this observance as a means to get around the institutional hatred of the era. Ultimately he wanted to have this new information included in the teaching of American history, period. In particular, Woodson wanted Black Americans to understand the strong family values, work ethic, sense of individual responsibility, spirit of entrepreneurship and incredible dignity that was indicative of Black Americans and their African ancestors.
This educational pursuit was also important to Woodson because he felt that historical awareness would inspire Black Americans of his time to avoid becoming dependent on the government to do for them what they could do for themselves. Woodson also believed that if White Americans knew the true history of Blacks in America and in Africa, it would help overcome negative stereotyping.
Woodson’s vision was that someday a special week or month would no longer be required in order to appropriately honor Black Americans and their accomplishments. Black history is American history—and a year-round school curricula relevant to all.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson was an African-American writer and historian known as the “Father of Black History Month.” He penned the influential book The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933).
Excerpts and Quotes from the research of Stacy Swimp
Article: Diverse – Issues in Higher Education
February 13, 2013
Pastor and Mrs. Rickey Jones, Sr.