Dr. Carter G. Woodson
According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), in the Summer of 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Black Emancipation. It is said that thousands of African Americans, most who were born into slavery, were eager to travel from distant locations to see exhibits and hear lectures on African American history.
The travelers exhibited almost childlike curiosity to witness and celebrate progress made by their people as a direct result of the abolishment of an abhorrent and unthinkable act of holding an entire race of people in bondage.
More than a century later, we don’t have to travel far distances to admire the great achievements of Black people. Modern conveniences can bring enlightenment and education to our finger tips. We can celebrate February as “Black History Month” without the struggle or impediments that came with the journeys associated with a lingering “Jim Crow” society in parts of the US in 1915.
Dr. Woodson’s inspired notion, his work and dream to promote African American history survives today even after several US presidents, congressional aberrations, societal machinations and changing platforms. In fact, the story of Dr. Woodson’s journey towards establishing this important recognition is quite fascinating and a recommended read.
What Was Dr. Woodson’s Real Message?
Today I challenge you to learn more about Dr. Woodson’s rationale for formalizing a Black History recognition program. I believe he saw its implications on American life and the potential of a fair society to acknowledge all of it contributors. That regardless of background, origin, political bias or attitude, Black History was to be part of the American consciousness, as it touched every aspect of American culture.
I submit that Dr. Woodson’s idea was not as much about the opportunity to celebrate our past, as it was about the need to promote the prospect of our future. Our survival over the many decades has been attributed to creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity and of course, bravery. This is because our freedom wasn’t given. It came from the blood of war, the sweat of people that would not succumb to their present situation and the tears of inspiration that "made a way…out of no way".
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) is doing a great job manifesting the objectives of Dr. Woodson’s dream and I invite you to check their website for all things associated with this great cause.
I’ve got a few books I still need to read, a few things I hope to become more engaged with. I’m certain you too can find plenty of information on their website to help you make Black History a source of inspiration, not just for February, but for every day of the year.
It’s Your Life, Plan for It!
Eric D. Bailey, CFP®