The Father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, was born in 1875 near New Canton, Va. He was the son of former slaves. In 1907, he obtained his master’s degree from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
In 1915, he and friends established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, following Woodson’s realization how black people were underrepresented in the books and conversations that shaped the study of American history. The organization, now the Study of African American Life and History, would promote studying black history as a discipline and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans.
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated,” Woodson said.
A year later, the Journal of Negro History, began quarterly publication. In 1926, Woodson proposed and launched the annual February observance of “Negro History Week,” which became “Black History Month” in 1976. Dr. Woodson chose February for the observance because February 12 was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 14 was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass.
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, first published in 1933 and still pertinent today.
He died in 1950, but Dr. Woodson’s scholarly legacy goes on.