Carter G. Woodson - African American Trailblazers

Uploaded by LibraryofVa on 10.03.2009

Think of the worst things people can say about your culture
about your race, about your religion
about your people.
Are they true?
Could be that you're not as smart,
or that you're money hungry,
or you're a drunk,
or you're cold and calculating?
Of course not.
You're in individual. Chances are, your culture has made contributions in a masterful
way to cultures throughout the world.
But the more the bigots say it,
the more it seems true.
The more these stereotypes are hoisted upon the cultural landscape, the
more people look at blacks and Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Native Americans,
Asians and Hispanics with wary eyes wondering if the demonising insults are
How in the world can you believe in yourself if
those around you believe you are a lesser lifeform?
Doctor Carter G. Woodson had an answer for that.
That answer
is knowledge.
What, you may ask, is so important about studying history?
The answer is as simple as it is important.
If you knew your culture's history was directly linked to great writers,
powerful leaders,
successful businesspeople and pioneers,
wouldn't that make you proud?
Wouldn't that inspire you to do great things yourself?
Those who endeavor to understand their own history
are paving a path toward a brigther future.
Carter G. Woodson,
the father of black history, knew that knowledge of the African-American
experienced would be the last way to destroy the chains of slavery.
And so he made it his life's passion.
In early twentieth century America, it was popularly accepted that the blacks in
Africa had contributed nothing to world civilizations.
That slavery actually benefited those Africans who had the good fortune to be
caught up in the slave trades. It was damaging African-Americans because they too were
being exposed to these ideas in accepted them as truth.
And it had a
damaging effect on their self-esteem and
their belief in themselves to be able to
go on and educate and contribute to the world. Those kinds of distortions not
only permeated the world of white Americans
but sunk deeply into the souls of African-Americans.
If one was to believe these lies about his own people
then how could he achieved the confidence to break the mold?
In nineteen books and dozens of published articles,
Carter G. Woodson worked to erase that false history
and began to help all Americans of all cultures to understand the true history
of the African peoples experience in America and
across the world. When you think of
black people as inferior that it would only make sense out of this argument
that they had done nothing
to contribute to the world. So he is going to point out all of those fallacies
and really try to give the black community a rallying point around which to push
their efforts: That we really needed to do something to make people aware--not
just black people, but white people--about all of the contributions that people of
African descent, both on the continent of Africa and also in this country, have
made to the world and to the united states of America.
He believed that hard facts
through research
and fair-mindedness
would bring blanance to history.
And that
his thesis was that
all peoples in the world
had made a
contribution to civilization.
And once that people,
on a mass scale,
understood this
there would be greater respect
for all races, all ethnic groups, all religions.
Before Carter Woodson began publishing his own writings
and those of contemporary historians, there were few media outlets that would
shed light on the full story of Africans and African-American achievements in the
United States.
He made sure that Americans heard a different side of the story. In nineteen-twenty-six,
Woodson founded Negro History Week,
which later evolved into Black History Month.
To this day,
the occasion continues to remind all Americans of the great accomplishments
of writers, entrepreneurs, civil rights leaders, artists, and educators who helped
create modern America.
Woodson also founded what is now called the Study of African American Life and
History, founded in nineteen-fifty.
This is the agency decides on the theme for Black History Month each year.
This legacy is still helping to inspire new generations of young people with
true stories of outstanding achievements by americans of African descent.
No person
can imagine where he's going, unless he knows where he's been.
The more I learn as I continue to educate myself
and to study
about people like James Lafayette,
like Anthony Johnson, like Maggie Walker, it's an absolute inspiration to me because
not only did they look like me but because here you have an individual with
enough character, enough strength and skill
that--living in some very difficult times-- they were able to use what they had.
No excuses.
No pity parties.
But use what they had to advance their cause and take not only themselves but
other people to another level.
Across our country today
African-Americans have overcome terrible lies and stereotypes to achieve great
Carter Woodson inspired each of these people to understand the success that
has been achieved by pioneers of their culture
and the contributions they have made and are now making to our nation.