Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This History of Black History Month

Have you ever heard of Dr. Carter G. Woodson? No? Me neither. But maybe we should have.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, was born to parents who were both former slaves. As a child he spent his days working in the coal mines of Kentucky. He enrolled to go to high school at age twenty and graduated two years later, and continued his schooling finally earning a Ph.D from Harvard.

While studying at Harvard, Dr. Woodson noticed that the history books he was learning from lacked or ignored the contributions of the black-american population. And when blacks were mentioned, it was in ways that reflected their inferior social standing.

This upset Woodson to the point where he was motived to challenge himself to write more black Americans into the history books. In 1915, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History). A year later he founded the Journal of Negro history, which quickly became a well respected publication. 1926 brought the launch of Negro History Week, which aimed to bring the contributions of blacks throughout history to national attention.

Since 1926, America has recognized black history first as "Negro History Week" and later as "Black History Month"

Why February?

Woodson strategically chose the second week in February to commermorate Negro History Week because the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the advancement of the black American population; Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12).

Because he was born a slave, thus not knowing the date of his real birthday, Douglass adopted February 14 as his birthday. He chose this date because his mother used to call him "Little Valentine".

The transition to Black History Month is only natural considering all of the significant events in African-American history that have occurred in February.

February 23, 1868: W.E.B DuBois, civil rights leader and co-founder of the NAACP, was born.
February 3, 1870: The 15th Amendment was passed, granting blacks the right to vote.

February 25, 1870: Hiram R. Revels, becomes the first black U.S. senator.

February 12, 1909: The NAACP was founded.

February 1, 1960: The famous "sit-in" at the Greensboro, N.C., segregated Woolworth's lunch counter (pictured)

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X was shot and died.

February 4, 2007 - Tony Dungy, coach of the Indianapolic Colts becomes the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl. His counterpart, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears was also African-American. They were the first African-American coaches in history to coach in the big game.

So whether you believe Black History Month is for good for the advancement of the awareness of black american accomplishments, or whether you believe giving the study of black history it's own month is defacto segregation. One thing is undoubtedly true. Dr. Carter G. Woodson accomplished his goal of writing more black Americans into the history books.

Related Posts by Categories

No comments:

Post a Comment