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The Origins of Black History Month

The Role of Carter G Woodson

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Carter G Woodson

Carter G Woodson

Courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory
What we now call Black History Month originated in 1926, founded by Carter G Woodson as Negro History Week. The month of February was selected in deference to Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who were both born in that month.

Carter G Woodson

The son of a slave, Carter G Woodson was born in New Canton, Virginia on December 19, 1875. He began high school at the age of 20 and then proceeded to study at Berea College, the University of Chicago, the Sorbonne, and Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1912.

Carter G Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 to train Black historians and to collect, preserve, and publish documents on Black life and Black people. He also founded the Journal of Negro History (1916), Associated Publishers (1922), and the Negro Bulletin (1937). Woodson spent his life working to educate all people about the vast contributions made by Black men and women throughout history. Mr. Woodson died on April 3, 1950 and Black History Month is his legacy.

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