In 1926, Carter G. Woodson (December 1875-April 1950) helped form the Negro History Week. Choosing the second week of February to accommodate Abraham Lincoln's and Frederick Douglas's birthdays. Born to two former slaves, Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson, in New Canton, Virginia, he grew up helping on the family farm and did not earn his High School Diploma until he was 22; however, did so in record time, two years. After earning his high school diploma, Woodson continued on to earn a Bachelor's in Literature from the college of Berea in Kentucky, worked as a Superintendent in the Philippines for the U.S. and traveled through Europe and Asia where he studied at the Sorbonne University of Paris. He eventually returned to the U.S., Chicago, and earned a Master's in 1908 at the University of Chicago and continued on to earn a Ph.D. in History at Harvard in 1912.
Not long after this, during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Proclamation of Emancipation in 1915, Dr. Carter Woodson and friends formed the Association for the Study of American Negro Life and History which is now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He started the Journal for Negro History (1916) and a publishing company (1921) called the Associate Publishers Press and the Negro History Bulletin (1937). Dr. Woodson hoped that one day the need for Black History Week (Month) was unnecessary, because the country recognized the contributions of Black Americans without it.
As early as the 1940s, Dr. Woodson realized that a week was not long enough to cover all the contributions of black Americans to the United States. While he passed away in 1950, on the 50th anniversary of Black History Week in 1976, Black History Month was established to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Woodson to. President Barack Obama said in 2016, "As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Let's continue this march today, for the rest of February, until Black History is American History.
ASALH - The Founders of Black History Month, & Bowers Brown, K. (2020, July 26). ASALH - The Founders of Black History Month | Our History. ASALH | The Founders of Black History Month (Est. 1915). https://asalh.org/about-us/our-history/
NAACP History: Carter G. Woodson. (n.d.). NAACP. Retrieved February 8, 2021, from https://www.naacp.org/naacp-history-carter-g-woodson/
Pruitt, S. (n.d.). The Man Behind Black History Month. History. Retrieved February 8, 2021, from https://www.history.com/news/the-man-behind-black-history-month