Skip to main content

Facts and Information

Father of Black History

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. The son of former slaves, in 1907, he obtained his BA degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, becoming one of the first African-Americans to earn 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 observance.

In 1915, he and friends established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. A year later, the Journal of Negro History, began quarterly publication.

Dr. Woodson was the founder of Associated Publishers, the founder, and editor of the Negro History Bulletin, and the author of more than 30 books. His best-known publication is The Mis-Education of the Negro, originally published in 1933 and still pertinent today.

Negro History Week to Black History Month

In 1926, Woodson proposed and launched the annual February observance of “Negro History Week.” He lobbied schools to participate in a special program to encourage the study of Black history.  February was chosen for the initial week-long celebration to honor the birth months of two abolitionists; Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.

By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of Black pride and identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.

 

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford called upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

~ Dr. Carter G. Woodson