Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, was very clear about the purpose and lessons that should be taught to Black, and all races, of children in schools, about Black History during the month of February. Black History was to serve educational purposes. Carter G. Woodson, who was a teacher in all grades, and set up educational schools internationally, saw his primary profession as an educator. And as an educator, he saw the missing gap in schools. He started Black History month because he wanted to educate students about the successes, history, and inventions of Black people, independent of White culture, civilization, or influence.
Somehow, we have lost this, and instead have made Black History Month, a celebration of Black folks succeeding in American institutions. Black History Month lessons now teach about folks like Jackie Robinson (the first Black Major league baseball player), Misty Copeland (the first prima ballerina), or even, Barack Obama, (the first Black US President.) But Jackie Robinson, Misty Copeland, or even Barack Obama’s story aren’t Black History; they are American history and should be taught alongside American history lessons.
I encourage everyone to read Carter G. Woodson’s eloquent and compelling argument below, written in 1941, on why we need to have Black History and what it should entail.
ShaRhonda Knott Dawson
From, “The Negro History Bulletin” October 1941