Dr. Carter G. Woodson
During black history month, it never fails that someone asks me about black history – its origins… why is it important… why is it in February – the shortest month of the year?
Black history month really began as a week in February to celebrate black culture and people in 1926. It was the brain child of Harvard historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson who first envisioned its creation in 1925. Dr. Woodson chose February because that was the month that both Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were born.
Dr. Woodson wanted to take a week and celebrate blacks in our country. At that time, many felt black Americans had no place in history, no significance at all. All you had to do was look in books, read a newspaper to know that was true. Jim Crow laws ruled our country to ensure blacks stayed in their place, prevented the mingling of races, and maintained segregation. So it is no wonder that Dr. Woodson felt the need to celebrate what true black Americans were. To celebrate what they had accomplished and how they had contributed to the building of America.
The father of Black History, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, did not envision separate histories for each race. There is just ONE history. History is like a puzzle, with every race, every culture, being an important piece. If one piece is missing, you do not have the total picture!
It would not be until 1976 that President Gerald Ford decreed Black History month a national observance and it became official.
As I frequently say, I have a love/ hate relationship with Black History month. I love that it is a time to reflect, a time to celebrate, a time to learn. But I hate that it has to exist. So here is to the day that all races are recognized and celebrated as what we are…the human race. And history is celebrated as that…history.