Dr. Carter G. Woodson was the father of Black History Month

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DR. CARTER GODWIN WOODSON
By RUNOKO RASHIDI

DEDICATED TO DR. JACOB HUDSON CARRUTHERS


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"If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated."

--Dr. Carter G. Woodson


Carter Godwin Woodson has been called the father of Black History Month. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves James and Eliza (Riddle) Woodson, was born on a small farm in New Canton, Virginia. From an early age he possessed an unquenchable thirst for learning. When he could, he attended the local school, and eventually went to Berea College in Kentucky. Ultimately, he obtained a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1907. In 1908 he attended Sorbonne University in Paris where he became fluent in French. He received a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 1912, becoming only the second African-American to earn such a degree.  Woodson taught briefly and held educational administrative posts in the Philippines, at Howard University (where he was Dean of the School of Liberal Arts), and West Virginia State College.

Dr. Woodson was a member of the Niagara Movement and a regular columnist for Marcus Garvey's weekly publication--the Negro World. He was the founder, in Chicago in 1915, of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In the same year he founded the Journal of Negro History--a publication still in existence. As a contributing writer for the the Journal of Negro History, Woodson wrote more than a hundred articles and 125 book reviews.

Carter Godwin Woodson was the founder of Associated publishers, founder and editor of the Negro History Bulletin, and the author of more than thirty books.  Probably Woodson's best known book is The Mis-Education of the Negro, originally published in 1933 and still relevant today. In the Mis-Education of the Negro Dr. Woodson stated that:

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."

In 1926 Woodson initiated the annual February observance of Negro History Week. He chose February for the observance because February twelfth was Abraham Lincoln's birthday and February fourteenth was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass. By the 1970s, Negro History Week had expanded to become Black History Month.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was truly a great man; an intensely dedicated soldier in the cause of African freedom and redemption. We proudly salute and praise him, and as we rapidly approach the year 2000 and the new millennium we dedicate ourselves to extending Black History Month to the entire year and the unending and unceasing celebration, recognition and commemoration of the global history of African people.

SOURCES:
Journal Of Negro History, Founded & Edited by Carter G. Woodson
Negro History Bulletin, Founded & Edited by Carter G. Woodson
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