Carter G. Woodson and the History of Black History MonthBreaking News
tags: African American history, Black History Month, Black History, Carter G. Woodson
In 1925, Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, known as the "Father of Black History," had a bold idea.
That year, he announced "Negro History Week" -- a celebration of a people that many in this country at the time believed had no place in history.
The response to the event, first celebrated in February 1926, a month that included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, was overwhelming -- as educators, scholars and philanthropists stepped forward to endorse the effort. Fifty years later, coinciding with nation's bicentennial and in the wake of the civil rights movement, the celebration was expanded to a month after President Gerald R. Ford decreed a national observance.
Since Woodson's death in 1950, the organization that he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History -- now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) -- has fought to keep his legacy alive.
Now, nearly 105 years after its founding, one of the organization's biggest challenges is keeping people engaged beyond February.
"One cannot discuss the African American freedom struggle or the civil rights movement without paying attention to white allies who were working alongside black people," Lionel Kimble, vice president for programs at ASALH, told ABC News. "One of the biggest issues we see, especially for those non-black folks, is that the emphasis on black history is divisive and some mistakenly label it 'racist.'"