|During the dawning decades of the twentieth century, it was commonly
presumed that black people had little history besides the subjugation
of slavery. Today, it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted
the development of the social, political, and economic structures of
the United States and the world. Credit for the evolving awareness of
the true place of blacks in history can, in large part, be bestowed on
one man, Carter G. Woodson. And, his brainchild the Association for
the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. is continuing
Woodson’s tradition of disseminating information about black life,
history and culture to the global community.
Known as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson (1875-1950) was
the son of former slaves, and understood how important gaining a
proper education is when striving to secure and make the most out of
one’s divine right of freedom. Although he did not begin his formal
|education until he was 20 years old, his dedication to study enabled him to earn a high school diploma
in West Virginia and bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago in just a few years.
In 1912, Woodson became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University.
Recognizing the dearth of information on the accomplishments of blacks in 1915, Dr. Woodson
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).
Under Woodson’s pioneering leadership, the Association created research and publication outlets for
black scholars with the establishment of the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History
Bulletin (1937), which garners a popular public appeal.
In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the
birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, this celebration was expanded to
include the entire month of February, and today Black History Month garners support throughout the
country as people of all ethnic and social backgrounds discuss the black experience. ASALH views the
promotion of Black History Month as one of the most important components of advancing Dr.
In honor of all the work that Dr. Carter G. Woodson has done to promote the study of African
American History, an ornament of Woodson hangs on the White House's Christmas tree each year.