Carter G. Woodson was the most thought provoking African America of the last century. He is credited with the father of Black History and the founder of the Journal of Negro History. I honor him because he had the foresight of thought or maybe a vision to create what we now know as Black History Month. I think I speak for all African America’s when I say we are grateful that he had the vision to bringing our community information about our people through what was then called Negro History Week. It evolved during the 1970s to what we now know as Black History Month.
His-Story will prove true that until 1918 there was virtually no information about black people recorded because white America claimed Negro’s had no history. Thanks to Dr. Woodson, he proved that was a lie and changed that impression and showed us that we had a mighty past. Of course there are those who will disagree but His-Story is clear that “Colored’s” given a birth certificate until about 1900. Before then it was recorded via a “Bill of Sale”.
Aside from the concept of introducing Black History to us Dr. Woodson’s most enduring legacy was the novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” originally published in 1933. When I read it many years ago, it was an amazing experience because I realized that the message remains relevant today. I feel this book should be mandatory reading for all African America’s – young and old.
I am still struck by the fact that we have not understood the powerful message contained within its pages. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negro’s of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools or not taking advantage of education period. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident nearly eighty-years later.
He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.”
Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, and social networking we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the question is “why are we not networking and doing business with each other?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage these options to strengthen and empower themselves – while robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody setup shop in our communities and take our money.
My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping the money in our community. Some say we spend TRILLION’S annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.
Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”
That schools have set aside a time each year to focus on African-American history is Woodson’s most visible legacy. His determination to further the recognition of the Negro in America and world history has inspired countless scholars. Woodson remained focused on his work throughout his life. Many see him as a man of vision and understanding. Although Woodson was among the ranks of the educated few, he did not feel particularly sentimental about elite educational institutions.
Woodson’s other far-reaching activities included the founding in 1920 of the Associated Publishers, the oldest African-American publishing company in the United States. This enabled publication of books concerning blacks that might not have been supported in the rest of the market. He created the Negro History Bulletin, developed for teachers in elementary and high school grades, and published continuously since 1937. Woodson also influenced the Association’s direction and subsidizing of research in African American history. He wrote numerous articles, monographs and books on Blacks. The Negro in Our History reached its eleventh edition in 1966, when it had sold more than 90,000 copies.
His friend, Dorothy Posrter Wesley, stated that “Woodson would wrap up his publications, take them to the post office and have dinner at the YMCA.” He would teasingly decline her dinner invitations saying, “No, you are trying to marry me off. I am married to my work”. Woodson’s most cherished ambition, a six-volume Encyclopedia Africana, lay incomplete at his death on April 3, 1950 at the age of 74.
To the many who read my blog know “I believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair”. So I say it’s time to know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to ever get there. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…