Black History Month

Rewriting the Books

As we find ourselves in Black History Month, are you aware of how it all began?  In 1926 an educator by the name of Dr. Carter G. Woodson realized that, “Hey, all of the history books are full of stories about white people and Pocahontas.”  He wondered, “did anyobody, besides white people, do anything noteworthy?”

Woodson was not your typical scholar.  His parents were former slaves and he would become only the second African American to graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard. W.E.B. Dubois was first. This gives new meeting to the term “first generation college graduate.”

Woodson felt strongly that African Americans deserved to be honored for the vital role they played in the history of America. Their story needed to be uncovered, accurately told and recorded for future generations. He also believed that the best way to alleviate racism was through education and social contract among the races. Woodson would promote the first Negro History Week in Washington, D.C. in 1926 for this purpose. He specifically designated the second week in February because this week coincided with Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Over time, this week was expanded into a month.

In one of his many publications, Woodson wrote:

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

What or who inspires you during Black History Month? Honor black heritage by sharing in the comment section below.
Kimberly C. Macenczak, Ph.D. By Kimberly C. Macenczak, Ph.D.
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of History and Education