The official theme of Black History Month 2019, "Black migration"
ideal: migration is not just one of the most the most pressing
Political issues, but it is also a key part of the own history of annual observance. The roots of Black History Month can be traced back to the Great Migration of the early 20th century, during which millions of African-Americans from the South moved to northern cities in the North. 39, hope for better job opportunities. In 1918, Carter G. Woodson published his book A century of black migration,
who argued that the great migration represented
a "new phase of American Negro life that will undoubtedly be the most important event in our local history since the American Civil War". The book helped put Woodson on the map, and less than a decade later, in light of literacy rates. increase among the black populations in these cities – it was instrumental
by establishing Black History Week, the predecessor of Black History Month. As February approaches, TIME spoke with Burnis R. Morris, author of the recent Carter G. Woodson: History, Black Press and Public Relations
and professor of journalism and mass communication at Marshall University on Woodson's legacy.TIME: How would you introduce Carter G. Woodson to someone who had never heard of his work?
MORRIS: I would call him one of the most important educators of the twentieth century. He is often called "father of black history". Before Carter G. Woodson, interest in black history was very low. Many 19th century and early 20th century historians have left out African Americans, and those who have included them in their history books have distorted the facts and included many lies. What people call the modern black history movement was created by Woodson in 1915, when he created the Association for the Study of Life and Life. Negroes story, which is now called Association for the Study of Life and African American History
African Americans, many of whom had never been allowed to read and write during slavery, were not known to keep family records; many people could not produce documents proving that they had made a significant contribution to society. Woodson undertook to direct them, and then encouraged the newspapers to write about important African-Americans. He thought that racial discrimination would be reduced if whites and other races realized that African-Americans were also making a contribution to the world. He believed that there was only one story, but he had to be content to promote black history until he could include blacks in it. the other books. In his most famous book, The bad education of the negro
he attacked the black middle class and formed the black elite for adopting the values and attitudes of whites, and he attacked black colleges. After slavery, most black colleges had white presidents and they were slow to include black history in their programs even after they had black presidents. Woodson provoked a revolution in the teaching of black history on college campuses. There is a black studies department on most university campuses. You did not have them before Woodson.How did he become a historian?
Woodson himself was heavily influenced by the newspapers he read growing up, working in the coal mines of West Virginia, where he read newspapers for illiterate miners, who gave him free food. Woodson's father was one of a handful of former slaves who came to this area to complete the railroad. Carter himself learned the classics and attended school sporadically. He graduated from high school [in 1896] and four years later, returned to the direction of this school. He then obtained the equivalent of a two-year degree at Berea College and the same year [he graduated, in 1903]. [Between] hearing Booker T. Washington speak for the first time and go to the Philippines – where he was supervising a school program and discovered that Filipinos were not taught much about themselves and their history – he [realized] Blacks he knew in America were not taught [enough] about their [own people’s] achievements. This combination prompted him to obtain a bachelor's and master's degree [both in history] the University of Chicago
and to apply to Harvard, where he became the second African-American to receive a doctorate at the university.
When did he have his big break?
In 1915, his first book The education of the Negro before 1861
got a favorable review in New York Time
, next to a book by W.E.B. DuBois. Woodson went on a books tour. The association and the newspaper The journal of Negro history
Then, in the 1920s, he was in a committee with his Omega Psi Phi fraternity and was talking about [ways to honor] the achievements of blacks, and this led to the first week of Negro history in 1926.Get your history in one place: sign up for the TIME TIME Weekly NewsletterWere there particular examples he liked to use of African Americans whose achievements had been excluded from history books?
The poet Phillis Wheatley
. The African-American almanac author, surveyor and mathematician Benjamin Banneker,
that Jefferson knew. He would talk about how the first real use of iron
was contributed by Africans. He also highlighted the battles in which African Americans made important contributions, such as the War of 1812.Are there any myths about Black History Month that you find yourself debunking?
You will hear blacks say [white people] gave us the coldest and shortest month of the year for Negro History Week and Black History Month, as if conspiracy
deprive African Americans of a full month. Woodson created it and chose February because he had the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. There is no plot about it. Some people use this month to protest, but Woodson did not want any demonstrations during Negro History Week. He believed in demonstrations and civil rights [activism]but he wished to continue to commemorate the achievements of African Americans regardless of the unrest and the political side.How has Negro History Week evolved to become Black History Month?
It gained momentum in the 1970s, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Negro History Week. Gerald Ford was the first president
publish a national month of black history proclamation
, and every president since he did that. Many young civil rights activists [at the time] wanted to choose a name that African Americans chose themselves; they did not choose to be called Negroes. Black was more fashionable. I think Woodson would have resisted this name change. He did not think that "negro" was anything to be embarrassed. I had a student from Africa who feared we were using the term African American because it left him out. The old term used by Woodson and others until the mid-1970s, Negro, included blacks from all over the world.In your book, you write that Black History Month was "hijacked and marketed". How? How would Woodson want it to be commemorated?
Woodson protested those who took advantage of the Negro History Week to use it to sell items and earn money. John Hope Franklin
– probably the most respected African American historian since Woodson, who was sponsored by Woodson – stated that he had not agreed to speak during the month of April. black history because the event had been too commercialized. The film Black Panther
to some extent exploited black history because some people flock to the theaters, watch this film and believe they have made a significant contribution to black history by allowing this big business to make money . We celebrate the fact that they brought in $ 1 billion, but Woodson was not as interested in celebrities as ordinary people. He asked the black newspapers to keep their records and addressed the members of his association to "write the life story of" niggers close to great "but useful, whose writers and authors do not take into account We often do not see him today. We see a lot of [emphasis on] the first athlete to do this and that. It's O.K., but you should not stop there.