Magazine article Black History Bulletin

... and for as Long as It Takes

Magazine article Black History Bulletin

... and for as Long as It Takes

Article excerpt

The March 3 [1961 "Outlook" article "A Failing Grade on Race" by Patrick Welsh, subtitled "Tense and Divided, My Students Are Rethinking the Whole Idea of Black History Month," suggested that Black History Month should be eliminated as an anachronistic relic. Few conclusions could be more wrong. The nation began celebrating black history in 1926, when Carter Godwin Woodson, the renowned educator, historian and former Howard University dean, initiated the observance of Negro History Week. Woodson is known as the "Father of Negro History in the United States" for his work in founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915 and the Journal of Negro History in 1916, among other activities. He chose the week in February--embracing the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 12, and the African American leader Frederick Douglass, Feb. 14--to bring the achievements of African Americans to the attention of the public. In 1972 the ASNLH changed the name of Negro History Week to Afro-American History Week, and in 1976, our nation began its first month-long celebration of Black History Month.

Woodson created Negro History Week because he recognized that accurate information about the African American contribution to the discovery, pioneering and development of the United States had not been adequately presented in the textbooks, media and films of that time. He believed that understanding and appreciation of the African American experience would not only enrich our national life but would remind all Americans of their ethnic roots and the uniqueness of the great American experience, nurturing mutual respect for differing traditions and backgrounds.

It was Woodson's hope and intention that one day African American History would be so woven into the fabric of the nation's historical curriculum that we would no longer need to set aside a special time for its recognition as a part of the American experience. …

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