Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

February 1, 2022 | By: Communications Staff

To celebrate Black History Month, we’ve created a series of book lists centered around important African American authors to share each week.

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950).

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) was a scholar whose dedication to celebrating the historic contributions of Black people led to the establishment of Black History Month, marked every February since 1976. Woodson fervently believed that Black people should be proud of their heritage and that all Americans should understand the largely overlooked achievements of Black Americans. He tirelessly advocated for Black self-reliance and racial self-respect.

After being barred from attending American Historical Association conferences despite being a dues-paying member, Woodson believed that the white-dominated historical profession had little interest in Black history. He saw African-American contributions “overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”

For Black scholars to study and preserve Black history, Woodson realized he would have to create a separate institutional structure. With funding from several philanthropic foundations, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 in Chicago. He described its mission as the scientific study of the “neglected aspects of Negro life and history.” The next year he started the scholarly Journal of Negro History, which is published to this day under the name Journal of African American History.

Woodson wrote more than a dozen books over the course of his career. His most notable work, The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933), focuses on educational indoctrination and Black self-empowerment.

Woodson’s devotion to showcasing the contributions of Black Americans came to fruition in 1926 when he launched Negro History Week in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The concept was expanded and renamed Black History Month in 1976 by presidential proclamation.

Learn more about Woodson and browse the book list:

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