Celebrating Black History Month Through Education
By Maryam Ar-Raheem
Profile: The Father of Black History
We must thank Dr. Carter G. Woodson for his understanding that U.S. History is incomplete and inaccurate unless it includes information about all Americans. It is appropriate that he is called the “Father of Black History.”
On December 19, 1875, Dr. Woodson was born to formerly enslaved parents. He did not begin his formal education until he was 20. Nevertheless, in 1912 when he was 37, he earned a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.
As Woodson immersed himself in the world of education, he noticed the prevailing ignorance and lack of information concerning Black life and history. Many historians regarded Black history as not worth telling or even nonexistent.
On September 9, 1915, Dr. Woodson and four other Black men co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. They envisioned an association that would support Black scholars in publishing their work, and racial harmony by improving historical knowledge. Their publication, The Journal of Negro History, still exists as The Journal of African American History.
In 1926, he had the idea of “Negro History Week” to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans. By no accident, the week included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Dr. Woodson believed that one way to fight racism was to “educate people about all that Black people have done for society so that this race is no longer regarded as lesser.” Black history is beneficial to Black people as indicated by this notable quote: “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
The contentious debate regarding teaching the history of our country would do well to heed the words of Dr. Carter G. Woodson: “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”