Black History Month: Carter G. Woodson – African American Writer And Historian Known As The “Father Of Black History”

Woodson, Carter G. (1875–1950), historian, educator, and editor. Born in Virginia to former slaves, Carter G. One of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard, Woodson dedicated his career to the field of African-American history and lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution.
Woodson was particularly concerned with social and economic history. His work built on a previous tradition of black historians such as William Wells Brown and George Washington Williams, who used history to illustrate the virtues and potential of African Americans, as individuals and as a race. In many cases he pioneered attention to the particular circumstances and contexts of African American history. His signficance for the study of African American culture and history, however, derives less from his own work and more from the institutional foundations and personal leadership he provided to the emerging discipline of black history. He mentored an entire generation of historians of African American culture, including Rayford W. Logan, Luther Porter Jackson, James Hugo Johnston, and others. His work, the journal he founded, and the scholarly activity he inspired all contributed to the cultural flowering of the Harlem Renaissance. The ongoing recovery of neglected aspects of African American history, literature, and culture owes much of its impetus to Woodson’s founding efforts.
In 1926, the first Negro History Week was established. Woodson described the event as one of the most fortunate steps ever taken by the Association. Expanded in 1976 to include an entire month, the national celebration is held each year during the month of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Today, school programs, exhibits, essays, and poetry contests are held during Black History Month to dramatize the achievements of blacks and to encourage black children in particular to develop pride in their history. As quoted by Lerone Bennett in Ebony, W.E.B. DuBois commented that Woodson literally made this country, which has only the slightest respect for people of color, recognize and celebrate each year, a week in which it studied the effect which the American Negro has upon life, thought, and action in the United States. I know of no one man who in a lifetime has, unaided, built up such a national celebration.

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