Carter Woodson, Native Huntingtonian & the Father of Black History Month

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, also known as “The Father of Black History”

February marks Black History Month. It’s a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the important roles that African-Americans have played in shaping the history of The United States. But why does it happen in February, and how did this celebration come to be? In this article, we will find out.

The Man Behind the Black History Month Holiday

A pioneer in the study of African-American history, Carter G. Woodson, is given much of the credit for Black History Month. He is the son of former slaves. Woodson spent his childhood working in quarries and coal mines. He received his education during the four-month term that was designated for black schools back in time.

At the age of 19 years, he had to teach himself Arithmetic and English Fundamentals. Then, Woodson entered high school, where he completed a four-year curriculum in two years. In 1903, he graduated from Berea College and went on to earn his Master’s degree in History from the University of Chicago. After this, he earned a doctorate from Harvard.

Statue of Woodson, the man behind the Black History Month holiday, in Huntington, West Verginia
How Did the Holiday Come to Be?

At the time, Woodson was disturbed that history textbooks largely ignored the black population in America. Then, he took the challenge of writing black Americans into the history of the nation. To do so, he established the Association of the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson also founded the widely respected publication by this group, called the Journal of Negro History.

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson developed Negro History Week. The thought that the achievements of the African American population properly set forth would crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization. Fast forward to 1976, Negro History Week expanded to Black History Month.

Why February?

Woodson chose the second week of February for the holiday because it marks the birthdays of two men who did a great job influencing the black American population. They are President Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Douglas.