By Devon Johnson, Contributing Writer
Devon Johnson is a new contributing writer for Community Arts NYC. Devon grew up in Brooklyn in NYCHA’s Marcy Development, and is one of our New York based writers. Check out his introductory post here.
Hi Community Arts! As our artistic souls enter another fantastic Black History Month let’s talk about its founder Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson initiated Black History Month in February 1926. His goal was to highlight achievements of African diaspora descendants. His research center was in NYC’s, Harlem then moved to the historic black community of Weeksville, Brooklyn. There are lots of New York City cultural organizations that celebrate and display African-American art, films, research, history and culture. This is a two part blog series and on part two I will compile five upcoming Black History Month events for your enjoyment.
It’s said “In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Their goal was to research and bring awareness to the largely ignored, yet crucial role black people played in American and world history.” Shortly after he published and distributed his work in the Journal of Negro History. He hoped to dismiss popular mistruths about his people. He also hoped to educate black people about their cultural background and instill them with a sense of pride in their race, Now that I think of it he kind of reminds me of what Tariq Nasheed’s Hidden Color Documentary. The film is about the untold story of African American descent.
Dr. Woodson, the son of former slaves was the second black person to receive a degree from Harvard University; Carter Woodson’s understanding in the importance of education was phenomenal and ahead of its time… He reminds me of The Civil Court Judge, John L. Phillips Jr. in the way he too also felt the importance of preserving one’s heritage. Dr. Woodson selected the month of February for the celebration as a way to honor of the birth of two men whose actions drastically altered the future of black Americans. Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation was born on February 12th and Frederick Douglass, one of the nation’s leading abolitionists was born on February 14th”
He was like many other slaves who didn’t know their birthday’s, birthplace, even most-times there siblings. Dr. Woodson provided many teaching materials to teachers, black history clubs and the communities at large.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson died in 1950, but his legacy continued on as the celebration of Negro History Week was adopted by cities and organizations across the country. This observance proved especially important during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, a time when the inhumane and unequal treatment of black people in America was being challenged and overturned. With the Black Panther movement: Power to the People!!!
Check back next Thursday for part two of Devon Johnson’s post on Black History Month.