O P T I O N S ---
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3. "Black History" Presentation --
4. Dr. Freeman's African American History Collection --
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Flash 6. Critical Incident Debriefing --
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Who was Dr. Carter G.
Launched Negro History Week in 1926, chosen in the second
week of February between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass
and Abraham Lincoln, which evolved into Black History Month
Known for writing the contributions of black Americans
into the national spotlight, received a Ph.D at Harvard
Founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American
Life and History in 1915, founded the Journal of Negro
History in 1916
Author of the book, "The Miseducation of the
Negro", published in 1933
To learn more about Dr. Carter G. Woodson, visit your local
library, or research about him over the Internet.
"When you control a man's thinking you do not have
to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not
to stand here or go yonder. He will find his "proper
place" and will stay in it. You do not need to send him
to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if
there is no back door, he will cut one for his special
benefit. His education makes it necessary."
-- Dr. Carter G. Woodson, "The Miseducation of the
"The Negro History Bulletin", started by Carter G. Woodson, the
creator of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History
in 1915. Pictured issues are from 1942-1948, prior to Woodson's death in
1950. The above issues are from The Freeman Institute
Black History Collection.
Carter G. Woodson (born 1875). Convinced that the history of
African-Americans was being ignored and misrepresented, took
steps to put things right. In 1915 Woodson founded the
Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the
Association for the Study of African American Life and
History (ASALH). The association was created to promote and
preserve African-American history and culture. He founded
the Journal of Negro History in 1916.
He spent his life
investigating, documenting and publishing African-American
history. He died suddenly of a heart attack on April 3, 1950
in Washington, DC, before realizing his ambition of
publishing the six-volume Encyclopedia Africana.
thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study
of Negro Life and History took place in Atlanta, October 27,
28, 29, 1950. It was the first meeting that Dr. Woodson had
not called to order, just six months after his death.
Committee consisting of the Presidents of Atlanta
University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark
College, Morris Brown College and Gammon Theological
Seminary made evident the interest of these institutions in
the work of the Association. The opening meeting in Sisters
Chapel, Spelman College, was a memorial to Dr. Woodson.
President Florence M. Read, presiding, extended a warm
welcome on behalf of Spelman College. In the absence of Dr.
Mary McLeod Bethune, President of the Association who was
delayed by the late arrival of her plane, Dr. Logan read her
paper, “The Torch is Ours.” Here is the transcription
of that speech.
The Torch is Ours
We are assembled here, today, members and followers of
the Association founded thirty-five years ago. As the
outgrowth of the great thought conceived in the
fertile mind of Carter Godwin Woodson – eminent
scholar and great American – who came up from the coal
mines of West Virginia, and the border country of old
Berea College, through the classic halls of Harvard,
in preparation for his great service.
The unfolding of his ideas – the implementation of his
ideas – during these thirty-five years, has not been
an easy task. The road has been very rugged. The
awakening of the darker peoples of America and the
world, to the importance of an historic knowledge of
their backgrounds, has called for unshakable faith and
persistence and unflinching sacrifice.
The results of Carter Woodson’s efforts and of those
who have journeyed with him over this rugged road,
have vindicated the soundness of his thinking. These
results are established in the factual findings of
this Association, as they come into increasing use in
institutions of learning, and among scholars and
students of social progress all over the world. These
results demonstrate the necessity for the vigorous and
continued growth of this organization, the Association
for the Study of Negro Life and History, which stands,
today, as the Master Key to the background of the
world of color.
My heart and my mind are deeply moved by the memory of
Carter Woodson – an American of my own age and
generation – who came from the same plain people,
close to the soil; who spent his life unearthing and
recording the proud and stimulating story of their
heritage, for the inspiration of present and future
generations, and as a guide to contemporary living.
His was a great, humanitarian task, nobly and
unselfishly undertaken; sturdily and effectively
performed. But it was a continuing task. It was the
kind of task initiated by great minds which they,
themselves, may never hope to see completed – a task
which must be left for fulfillment to succeeding
generations of workers, lighted on their way by
brightly burning fires, kindles from the torch of the
When Carter Woodson passed on, last April, he left
behind the strongly burning torch of his hard-won and
ever-increasing knowledge of our past, and his courage
and steadfastness in adhering to the truth. He struck
that torch high into the crevice of between the rock
of prejudice and discrimination – a crevice forced by
the growing pressure of the facts assembled and sent
far and wide by this Association. It was forced by the
strength of the facts that have given to us who are of
Negro origin, a firm foundation of pride in a past
which has contributed greatly to the forward march of
civilization. It was forced by the strength of the
facts that have opened in a new respect the eyes of
many who have scorned or pitied us as a people without
a past save that of savagery and slavery.
So, as we gather here, today, in our first annual
meeting held without his stimulating presence, let us
put our minds to the task of keeping his torch forever
burning – an eternal light moving ever higher for all
men to see – finding and inscribing for history the
records of a race; lighting the path to the future
with the incentive of a racial heritage of our high
achievement. This must be the measure of our devotion
to the shining spirit of our leader who has placed his
torch and has gone before – to rest.
His Association – the Association for the Study of
Negro Life and History – will not fail to take up the
challenge of that flaming torch. The great fraternity
of its membership and friends will not fail. I know
that all who are of it stand ready, today, to step
forward in support of the cause to which Carter
Woodson dedicated and gave his life.
Let us thank God for him today, as we close ranks and
move forward to take our next step with the might of
established facts behind us – ever-searching out new
and worthy accomplishments from the dark recesses of
time; ever recording what is of great merit in our
contemporary life that slips away so swiftly, to
become history with the passing of the hours.
We must relight our own torches from Carter Woodson’s
bright flame, and continue the search for the
sustaining truth; continue to spread the truth far and
near, until we, in our turn, shall pass his saving
light, undimmed, into the waiting hands of posterity.
-- Mary McLeod Bethune
The Journal of Negro History, January, 1951, pages 9-11.
Founded by Carter G. Woodson
Edited by Rayford Logan
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By Sean Gonsalves -- Woodson, whose
best-known book "The Miseducation of the Negro,"
was born in 1875 in Buckingham County, Virginia. The son of
former slaves, he worked in mines and quarries until the age
of 20 when he decided that his mind would be a terrible
thing to waste -- long before the sentiment became a slogan
for the United Negro College Fund.
Woodson received his high school diploma at the age of 22
and went on to get a master's degree in history from the
University of Chicago. In 1912, Woodson received a doctorate
in history from Harvard.
Unable to land a teaching post at the elite university
because Harvard wasn't hiring black professors, Woodson went
to teach at one of the nation's leading black colleges,
In 1915, Woodson became the director of the Association for
the Study of Negro Life and History. A year later he was
named editor of the association's scholarly quarterly,
"The Journal of Negro History."
Woodson believed the study of black history, using the tools
of scholarly research and writing, could serve a dual
purpose. It could be used to counter white racial
chauvinism, which was used to rationalize the oppression of
black people in America.
The distortions and deletions in the American historical
record as it pertains to race matters, Woodson believed, was
detrimental to the health of a nation whose inherent promise
is life, liberty and justice for all.
Perhaps more importantly, Woodson knew that in a society
where black intelligence and moral worth is incessantly
demeaned and devalued, studying black history would serve as
a psychological defense shield for black students against
the assaults of white supremacy.
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So he embarked on a quest to establish a national
celebration of black heritage. In 1926, Negro History Week
"Besides building self-esteem among blacks, (Black
History Week) would help eliminate prejudice among
whites," Woodson concluded.
It wasn't until after the civil rights movement of the 1960s
that Black History Week was taken seriously outside of the
educated black community and expanded into Black History
February was chosen as Black History Month because the
birthdays of the esteemed black abolitionist Frederick
Douglass and Abraham Lincoln fall
during that month. It's also the month the NAACP was
founded. It just so happens that February is the shortest
and one of the coldest months of the year.
So how come there is no official White History Month? In the
words of a Tulane University Black History Month Web site,
"a White History Month is not needed because the
contributions of whites are already acknowledged by society.
Black History Month is meant to remedy this inequity of
Of course, if standard U.S. history curriculum did a better
job of teaching both the tragic and triumphant aspects of
the expansion of democratic freedoms on this continent and
its inextricable link to Americans of black African descent,
then a Black History Month would be wholly unnecessary.
But when educated Americans at the dawn of the 21st century
make statements like: My grandparents were immigrants who
faced discrimination and made it. Why can't blacks? All
societies had slaves. Besides, some blacks were sold into
slavery by black Africans -- it's clear to anyone familiar
with the history of white-skin privilege in America that
Black History Month has not outlived its usefulness.
This isn't to deny the importance of individual initiative
or to lay a guilt-trip on white brothers and sisters for
every failure in the black community. On the other hand,
black social mobility, (or lack thereof) cannot be
understood without understanding the devastating impact of
not only two centuries of slavery but a hundred years of
organized, state-supported attacks on "free" black
communities after slavery.
For sure, there have been many blacks who have overcome the
odds, which is a testament to the resilience of the human
spirit. But those blacks who have "succeeded" did
so in spite of white-skin privilege; not because of it.
Instead of asking why can't blacks make it -- a grossly
imprecise question that ignores the significant achievements
of thousands of African-Americans -- we'd do better to ask:
what obstacles have impeded the economic, political and
social development of many black Americans? To candidly
answer that complex question, the study of black history is
-- An article published by The
Black World Today
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Dr. Freeman discussing a painting from his
collection at a
US Department of Justice Black History Month event (click on photo above for more info about painting)
A photo of the huge area in the main
hall near the United Nations visitor's entrance
at the United Nation's "Transatlantic Slave Trade" exhibit in NYC
(16 March - 30 April, 2011).
20 documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black
History Collection were showcased.
More items from the Collection are exhibited behind the walls.
Dr. Freeman at the United Nations
"Transatlantic Slave Trade" Exhibit.
Twenty documents & artifacts from The Freeman Institute Black History