Today is February 1, 2019.
Thanks to the foresight of an African-American man, the son of slaves, a tradition that begins each year on this date has led to the awareness and appreciation of the contributions to society by African-Americans.
Whether it’s called “African American History Month” or “Black History Month,” the genesis of the observance has been credited to the academic, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, born in Virginia in 1875. (*)(**)
A seeker of knowledge and an educator, Dr. Woodson learned his “first history lessons” from his mother, who was born a slave, and his father, who was also born a slave and regularly beaten by his master (**).
The love of learning eventually led Woodson to one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States : Harvard University, where in 1912 he received his Ph.D. in history and the accomopanying designation, “Doctor.” (**)
Eventually Dr. Woodson became a member of the “American Negro Academy” which preserved the writings of African-Americans. In 1915 he “started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.” (**)
It was important to Dr. Woodson that what happened in the past not be forgotten.
Two of Dr. Woodson’s personal heroes -- abolitionist Frederick Douglass and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln -- were born in February. Fittingly, he initiated the first ‘Negro History Week” program in February 1926. That action was the first step toward honoring African-Americans in the month of February.(*)(**)
Dr. Woodson died in 1950.(**)
Thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson and others like him, the history of African Americans has become an important part of America’s educational systems and culture.