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The Father of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson, historian, author and journalist, is known as the “Father of Black History.î In celebration of Black History Month, here is a short narrative about his life.According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Woodson was born on Dec. 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia. His parents, Anna Eliza Riddle Woodson and James Woodson, were former slaves, and Woodson was the fourth of seven children.Woodson worked as a miner and sharecropper at a young age to help his family; however, when he made it to high school at age 20, he finished his diploma in less than two years, according to He studied history in college at Berea College in Kentucky and the University of Chicago, where he received his bachelorís and masterís degrees.Woodson began paying tribute to black history in the 1920s in February; and, in 1926, he enlisted his former fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, to help him get the word out about black history. In 1924, the fraternity had created Negro History and Literature Week. According to, Woodson wanted “a wider celebration” and decided the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which he helped found in Chicago, should “take on the task itself.”Woodson chose February to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. The program would later expand to become Black History Month.Throughout his life, he wrote several books on African American history to mitigate what he felt had been misrepresented in academia. ìThe Education of the Negro prior to 1861,î written by Woodson and his colleague, Alexander L. Jackson, was one of his pivotal works.Carver Woodson and many other African Americans like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. helped carve out a path for the future. From History-Making Black Americans Everyone Should Know, others that paved the way include Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895), the first black female doctor in the U.S.; Maria P. Williams (1866-1932), the first black women to produce, write and act in her own movie in 1923, ìThe Flames of Wrath;î Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1870-1940) who founded the Chicago Defender weekly newspaper, which played a huge role in getting African Americans living in the South to migrate to the North; Marian Anderson (1897-1993): She was one of the worldís greatest contralto singers in the world. In 1963, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and, in 1991, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.These early accomplished African Americans aided the success of our modern-day leaders like Colin Powell, who became the first black U.S. Secretary of State in 2001; Condoleeza Rice became the first black female U.S. Secretary of State in 2002; in 2009, Barack Obama became the first black president of the U.S., and Eric Holder Jr. became the first black attorney general.Actors and actresses and sports figures also benefited from the efforts of black Americans. In 2002, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington took home an Oscar the same year for their roles in ìMonsterís Ballî and ìTraining Day,î respectively. Halle was the first black woman to win an Academy Award.In 2016, Simone Biles became the first black woman to bring home four Olympic gold medals in womenís gymnastics at a single game (as well as a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics). Also in Rio, Simone Manuel was the first black woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming.

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