In 1926, Carter Godwin Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D. graduate, founded Black History Week. He was born Dec. 19, 1875, in New Canton, Va. His parents were newly freed slaves, and Dr. Woodson was the oldest of nine children.
Dr. Woodson worked in the local coal mines to help support his family. At age 17, he and his family moved to Fayette, Va. A young man of intense motivation, Dr. Woodson taught himself the basic fundamental school subjects. At age 20, he was able to enter high school full time, and earned his diploma in less than two years. In 1907, he received a Bachelor of Science degree and, in 1908, a Master's degree from the University of Chicago.
After years of study, Dr. Woodson realized that the contributions of Black Americans must be documented and taught. He believed, "If a race had no recorded history, its achievement would be forgotten and, in time, claimed by other groups."
As a result, from 1926 through 1975, America celebrated Black History Week, which included Feb. 12th and 14th. This week was chosen because Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist Frederick Douglas were born on those days. During America's Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, Black History Week was expanded to include the entire month of February, to provide more time for programs and observances.
It was not Dr. Woodson's goal to rewrite history through the medium of what has now come to be known as Black History Month, but to explode the myth that Black Americans had no part to play in the framing of our nation's history. "We should not dim one bit the luster of any star in our firmament. Let no one be so thoughtless as to decry the record of the makers of the United States of America. We should not learn less of George Washington, 'First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen;' but we should learn something also of the three thousand Negro soldiers of the American Revolution who helped to make this 'Father of the Country' possible.
"We should not cease to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln as the 'Savior of the Country;' but we should ascribe praise also to the 178,975 Negroes who had to be mustered into the service of the Union before it could be preserved and who, by their heroism, demonstrated that they were entitled to freedom and citizenship,"said Woodson.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.