Black History Month started by former WVSU dean

By Meghan Shell, Managing Editor

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” – Carter G. Woodson.

As the celebration of Black History Month kicks off on campus, lets take time to remember Carter G Woodson, our former dean and “The Father of Black History.”

Woodson was an author, editor, publisher and historian who committed himself to chronicling black history. He was also the dean at West Virginia State University from 1920-1922, back when it was still the West Virginia Collegiate Institute. During his time as dean, he would author and publish two influential books, “The History of the Negro Church,” and “The Negro in Our History”

Four years later, he would go on to Washington D.C where he spearheaded the campaign for a “Negro History Week.” The celebration was slated for the second week in February to commemorate the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Though it was not recognized nationally until 1976, Black History Month grew out of the original idea Woodson had to celebrate black excellence. He wished to remember and chronicle these accomplishments because many of them, “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”

A teacher himself, Woodson graduated from high school and began work as an education superintendent in the Philippines. From there, he returned to the US to earn both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree at the University of Chicago before going on to become the second African-American to earn a Ph.D, from Harvard University.

Not only was Woodson an influential historian and author, he also created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, the Journal of Negro History in 1916, the Associated Publisher’s Press in 1921, and the Negro History Bulletin in 1937, all with the goal of archiving and/or chronicling African-American history.

When he died on April 3, 1950, he died an honored and respected man. Woodson worked to preserve black history up until the day he passed. His legacy continues on in the form of Black History Month, an internationally celebrated and recognized month of remembrance and recognition.

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