By: Jae Jones
There was very little-known about #Black History until the 20th Century. That was when Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson changed that. Woodson was an African-American author, historian, journalist, and founder of the Association for the Study of African- American Life and History. He is known as the “Father of #Black History.”
Woodson was born the son of two former slaves, James and Eliza Riddle Woodson. Since his family was poor he could not attend school on the regular. However, through self-instruction, he was able to master all common school subjects by the age of 17. He soon became to earn a living in the miner coal fields, and devoted a few months out of the year to school. In 1895, at the age of 20, Woodson entered Douglass High School. He received his diploma in less than two years, going on to teach at Winona in Fayette County. By 1900, he was principal of Douglass High School. He earned his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in Kentucky in 1903.
Woodson was the first black fraternity Sigma Pi Phi and a member of Omega Psi Phi. His PhD in history was completed at Harvard University in 1912, where he was the second Black man to earn a doctorate degree, after W.E.B DuBois. He was convinced that the role of African-American history and the history of other cultures was being ignored or misrepresented among teachers in the classrooms. He saw a need for research into the neglected and forgotten past of African-Americans. Along with Alexander L. Jackson, Woodson went on to published The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 in 1915.
Woodson believed that through education, and increasing social and professional contacts among blacks and whites could it would bring about the reduction of racism. He became a member of the NAACP with the Washington, D.C branch. He was a professor at Howard University by left after differences with the school’s president. So, he then began to devote his time, and what would be the rest of his life to historical research. He worked to preserve the history of Black people and collected thousands of artifacts and publications.
In 1926, 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 week of recognition became accepted and has been extended as the full month of February, now known as Black History Month.
“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 Woodson