Since 1926, Americans have recognized black history annually – first as Negro History Week and later as Black History Month. What you might not know is that black history had barely begun to be studied – or even documented – when the tradition began. Although African-Americans have been in this country since colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they gained a somewhat respectable presence in history books.
We owe the celebration of Black History Month, and more importantly, the study of black history, to Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was disturbed to find in his studies that history books largely ignored the African-American population, and when they did, it was generally in ways that reflected the inferior social position they were assigned at the time.
In 1915, Woodson and the Rev. Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, and a year later founded the widely respected Journal of Negro History.
Featured on today’s program are John Wooten, co-founder and chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation; Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered; the Honorable Ron Kirk, former U.S. trade representative; and the late Joyce Ann Brown, founder of MASS, Inc.