The son of former slaves, and coming from a large, poor, family, Woodson had a natural longing, and craving, for increasing his knowledge. He taught himself the fundamentals of school-based learning, and by the age of 17, had mastered them. High School was next, and Woodson began high school at the age of twenty--- graduating in just two years. High school graduation, then college, then he was appointed school supervisor at a school in the Philippines. A position he held for four years.
He returned to America, at University of Chicago, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts degrees in 1908. He was a member of the first black professional fraternity Sigma Pi Phi and a member of Omega Psi Phi.
Woodson went on to earn his Doctorate from Harvard University, where he, and W.E.B. DuBois were the first two black men to achieve such an honor in the history of the institution. In a long history of achievements, Carter G. Woodson also began the first program of black history studies, citing that, he felt that the contributions, and accomplishments of African-Americans were being ignored, and hidden.
He was also a founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1915 and Woodson has been declared as the father of black history. His is a full, and hugely-significant life. One that touches us all. It was he, who established Negro History Week in February of 1926.
According to the Library of Congress, “National African American History Month in February celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens our understanding of our Nation's history.
If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto. - Carter G. Woodson
National African American History Month had its origins in 1915 when historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (“ASALH”). Through this organization Dr. Woodson initiated the first Negro History Week in February 1926. Dr. Woodson selected the week in February that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans.
In 1975, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Week urging all Americans to "recognize the important contribution made to our nation's life and culture by black citizens." In 1976 this commemoration of black history in the United States was expanded by ASALH to Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, and President Ford issued the first Message on the Observance of Black History Month that year. In subsequent years, Presidents Carter and Reagan continued to issue Messages honoring African American History Month.
In 1986 Congress passed Public Law 99-244 (PDF, 142KB) which designated February 1986 as "National Black (Afro-American) History Month.” This law noted that February 1, 1986 would “mark the beginning of the sixtieth annual public and private salute to Black History.” The law further called upon to President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe February 1986 as Black History Month with the appropriate ceremonies and activities. President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5443 which proclaimed that “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.” This proclamation stated further that this month was a time “to celebrate the many achievements of African Americans in every field from science and the arts to politics and religion."
Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching
In January 1996, President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 6863 for “National African American History Month." The proclamation emphasized the theme for that year, the achievements of black women from Sojourner Truth to Mary McLeod Bethune and Toni Morrison. In February 1996 the Senate passed Senate Resolution 229 commemorating Black History Month and the contributions of African American U.S. Senators.
Since 1996, Presidents have issued annual proclamations for National African American History Month. On February 1, 2011 President Obama issued a Proclamation reflecting on this year’s theme of “African Americans and the Civil War” as we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War.”
And now, in 2016, how many of us view this commemoration of our history with more than a passing acknowledgment? How many of us insist that our youth have, at least, some concept, and fundamental knowledge, of how we got this far. Drake may even be telling the truth, but we, as a people, truly “started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Where, exactly? I’m not certain. Is idolizing rappers “here”? Athletes? Actors? Are their talents the only ones that matter anymore--- though they, too, stand on the shoulders of ALL those who came before. Many don’t even know it. Isn’t it important to be certain that our youth fully understand what it took for us to arrive here from the bottom? Some of our people remain at the bottom... and likely couldn’t care less about our history, because they’re trying to survive.
Louisiana is a host to part of Dr. Woodson’s pivotal legacy, and pedigree assurance of our people. They can be found at:
• Carter G. Woodson Middle School in New Orleans.
• Carter G. Woodson Liberal Arts Building at Grambling State University, built in 1915, in Grambling.
Our day-to-day lives are hard. Our personal struggles, though, pale in comparison to the strong black men and women of the ages before us. Let us uphold our obligation to parent, inform, educate, and equip our children with their personal history. Their history matters.
Knowledge is POWER.
Marcinho Savant (Staff Writer) is an author, executive, entertainment expert, commentator, CEO, and a proud black man.