Father of Black History
Berea ’ s Carter G . Woodson started what became Black History Month
The national emphasis on the history of Black
Americans and their contributions to the nation and their communities has a strong connection to Madison County .
In 1895 , a young man from West Virgina , Carter G . Woodson , who worked as a coal miner while attending high school , enrolled at Berea College .
Woodson is considered the father of Black History Week , and the crusader of Black History Month .
The son of former slaves , Woodson attended college part-time , while teaching at a school that black miners in West Virginia organized for their children . He received a bachelor ’ s degree from Berea in 1903 .
As a child , Woodson ’ s family moved to Huntington , W . Va ., after his parents learned a school was being built there for Black children .
After graduating from Berea College , Woodson continued his education at the University of Chicago , where he earned a second bachelor ’ s degree and in 1908 was awarded a master ’ s degree in European History .
In 1904 , the year after Woodson graduated from Berea , the law forced black students to leave . The college appealed to the U . S . Supreme Court but lost its case .
He then continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris , France , and at Harvard University where he earned a Ph . D . in history in 1912 . He was the second African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard . W . E . B . DuBois was the first in 1907 .
As an educator , Woodson devoted himself to the study and promotion of Black history , which was largely ignored by most scholars .
To further that cause , in 1915 he helped form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History , later the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History . The next year he established the Journal of Negro History .
Woodson also formed the black-owned Associated Publishers Press in 1921 and would write more than a dozen books , including “ A Century of Negro Migration ” ( 1918 ), “ The History of the Negro Church ” ( 1921 ), “ The Negro in Our History ” ( 1922 ) and “ Mis-Education of the Negro ” ( 1933 ).
In addition to research and writing , Woodson served as principal of Armstrong Manual Training School in Washington , D . C ., before becoming a dean at Howard University in Washington and for the West Virginia Collegiate Institute .
To promote the teaching of Black history , Woodson pushed for a week of emphasis in February , between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln , Feb . 12 , and Frederick Douglass , Feb . 20 .
Eventually , Negro History Week would become Black
History Month , and most schools of higher learning would incorporate courses or majors in Black studies into their curricula .
Woodson died April 3 , 1950 , at the age of 74 and is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland , Md .
Today , Berea ’ s Carter G . Woodson Center for Interracial Education helps carry on the legacy of the former coal miner who became an early Black history scholar and the father of what is now Black History Month .
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