A Day, A Month, A Legacy: Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Black History Month begins, not as a gift because it was not granted, but as an affirmation of all that is becoming and as a reflection of all that has been.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson

Check this out:

Noted as the “Father of Black History,” Woodson actually served as the Supervisor of Schools in the Philippines. He describes some of his experiences in the Philippines, as similar tactics of “educating” Filipinos were used on African Americans. After his role in the Philippines, he wrote the book “The Miseducation fo the Negro” and inaugurated Black History Month (which started as Black History Week). Here is an excerpt of a bit of his biography from the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia:

“Woodson described a similar phenomenon in the Philippines where U. S. teachers trained at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Chicago, failed repeatedly in their efforts to teach Filipino children, all because they did not take into account the alienating materials of instruction…It was pointless to concentrate “On the story of how George Washington always told the truth,” he continued, for teaching Filipino children to read from books based solely on American myths and heroes would never prove successful. Woodson readily complicated these positions by suggesting that no “people should ignore the record of the progress of other races … We say, hold on to the real facts of history as they are, but complete such knowledge by studying also the history of races and nations which have been purposely ignored.””


  1. I read The Mis-Education of the Negro for one of my African-American History classes in college. It’s amazing how some of the things covered in that book hold up. One of the things that lasted with me, was how we hurt each other. I think the example was:

    One black person opens up a shop on a street and is successful. Another black person sees this and opens up a shop that sells the same thing on the same street. Thus, it hurts/destroys both businesses.

    I’ve seen it happen before. It’s just amazing that it still happens.

  2. kos:

    In spirit, I agree, but I think Woodson’s example may be problematic. Businesses tend to cluster on a regional/spatial basis. The benefits to consumers and for innovation are considerable. “The Garmet District,” “Broadway,” “Silicon Valley,” and “Hollywood” are all examples of this clustering. The same thing happens with hair salons catering to women.

    The biggest problem for black businesses, to my mind, hasn’t been our competition with one another, but rather the limits on access to capital and credit and discrimination in the solicitation of contracts with local, regional, state and federal government entities. So, firms seeking to serve private or public sector clients have faced an uphill climb.

    I definitely hear what you’re saying in the example, but I haven’t found that to be the heart of our problem from a business ownership perspective.

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