Courtesy of the National Park Service
Carter G. Woodson is considered the "Father of Black History Month."
-DID YOU KNOW?-
By Tara Yilmaz
Do you know why Black History Month is in February? It was originally celebrated as a week during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Fedrick Douglass.
→ Did you know Carter G. Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History Month”? Woodson was an American historian, author, journalist and Harvard scholar. Born to formerly enslaved parents in 1875, he overcame great obstacles and was dedicated to celebrating historic people of the African diaspora.
Woodson strove to overcome the suppression of Black history and the contributions of Black Americans. He also wanted African Americans to know and be proud of their heritage.
→ Did you know Woodson was mainly self-taught? His parents were not literate, and he was often split between his familial responsibilities and his yearning to be educated. As a young child, Woodson helped with labor on his family farm and as a teenager worked in the coal mines of West Virginia. Because of his situation, he was unable to regularly attend school. That didn’t stop him from mastering basic school subjects by the age of 17. At 20 years old, Woodson enrolled in high school and graduated within two years.
→ Did you know after graduating from high school, Woodson worked as a teacher and school principal? According to NAACP.org, he then graduated from Berea College in Kentucky with a degree in literature and became a school supervisor in the Philippines before traveling throughout Europe and Asia.
→ Did you know Woodson was only the second Black American after W.E.B. Du Bois to attend Harvard University? He attended after receiving his Masters degree at the University of Chicago. Woodson later joined the faculty at Howard University, where he became the serving Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
→ Did you know Woodson not only learned and taught history, but also created it? In 1916 Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Alongside the other co-founder of the organization, minister Jesse Moorland, the organization established Negro History Week in 1926. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History started the week to encourage schools and communities to arrange local celebrations and host performances and lectures to deepen the study of African American history and culture. From the organization’s endeavors, the history week led to Black History Month.