Carter G Woodson, a distinguished African American author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875-April 1950) believed that African American people should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs of the country. He firmly believed that African American history is a foundation for young African Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of our society.
He is known as the “Father of Black History”. He authored numerous scholarly books on the positive contributions of African Americans. He also published many magazines during the 20th century highlighting significant roles of African Americans in the United States.
Woodson felt that African Americans should be proud of their heritage, and other Americans should understand it. With that belief, he started reaching out to schools and several key organizations and founded “Negro History Week” in 1926. Negro History Week was timed in February to coincide with Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays. It wasn’t until 1976 that President Ford extended the observation to a full month. The month of February became a month of honoring the contributions of African Americans. African American History Month has received official recognition from governments in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It’s observed in October in the United Kingdom.
African American History Month is known for celebrating such prominent figures as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Maya Angelou. There are countless other African Americans who’ve made a profound impact in history in many different industries. Others who have made significant contributions with their innovations are: Madam CJ Walker, a self-made millionaire; Mae C Jemison, an astronaut and physician; George Washington Carver, agricultural scientist and inventor; Daniel Hale Williams, open heart surgeon; Charles Drew, surgeon and medical researcher; and W.E.B. DuBose, sociologist.
As we celebrate African American History Month, take a moment to pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to pave the way for all Americans to have equality.