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A Slice of American History: Carter G. Woodson

by Charlesetta Thompson In February of 1926, Carter G. Woodson, an historian and visionary, established Negro History Week, the event that turned into what is now Black History Month. Dr. Woodson came from humble beginnings. The son of emancipated slaves, Woodson spent his childhood working in the coal mines of Kentucky. He enrolled in high school at age 20 and graduated within two years, later earning a PhD. from Harvard. A scholar with historical focus, Woodson was disturbed to find that history books had largely excluded the black American population from their recounting. If they were included, it was usually in ways that reflected their inferior social positions. Dr. Woodson decided to take on the challenge of writing black Americans into our nation’s history. He authored the Journal of Negro History and initiated the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History). ASLAH held its annual convention two years ago in Milwaukee. Because of Dr. Woodson’s perseverance, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, as well as a current movement toward learning about other cultures, various segments of society are beginning to study and appreciate the contribution of African Americans to America. Hopefully there will come a time when the celebration of African American History is only a ceremonial event and our contributions are celebrated and respected year-round. At that point we will have become an integral part of the pages of American History. I urge all Milwaukeeans to check the local listings and community happenings for this month’s African American History events and celebrations. Vow to learn something new. If you are a parent, attend an event with your child. Once we learn about ourselves, our self-esteem increases. Once we learn about others, we develop a better understanding, thus improving the environment of peace in the world!