Black History Profiles-Quick Reads

Black History Month profile:
Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

  • in 1926, he pioneered "Negro History Week"--an offshoot from his Omega Psi Phi brothers Negro History and Literature Week to coincide with making the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Contrary to some beliefs, it was begun in this month specifically for this reason.
  • on creating Negro History Week he said: "We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice. There should be no indulgence in undue eulogy of the Negro. The case of the Negro is well taken care of when it is shown how he has influenced the development of civilization"
  • raised on a farm near New Canton, Virginia, where fieldwork kept him out of school; unable to attend high school until 20, he worked odd jobs (coal miner, garbage man)-- and graduated in two years
  • the second black person to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard, after W.E.B. Du Bois; which was earned in History
  • throughout his life, worked to preserve the history of African Americans and accumulated a collection of thousands of artifacts and publications.
  • noted that African-American contributions “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them."
  • ”Race prejudice", he concluded, “is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind."
  • His hope was that this week would turn into a year round study of contributions by Negroes to America, that would be embraced universally
  • also formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press in 1921 and wrote more than a dozen books over the years, including A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and Mis-Education of the Negro(1933).
  • "Mis-Education"—with its focus on the Western indoctrination system and African-American self-empowerment—is a particularly noted work and has become a regular course adopted by a few college institutions.
    "If you can control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.
    ― Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro

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