Father of Black History Month: Carter G. Woodson


Photo: Wikicommons

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, which is almost 50 years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished “legalized” slavery in the United States. In this year, the Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson, and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by blacks in America, as well as people of color around the world. Today, this organization is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). It is this group under which Woodson sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, in which he chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This celebration inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize more local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host various performances and lectures.

In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” This was made possible by OUR “FATHER OF BLACK HISTORY,”—Dr. Carter G. Woodson

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