African-American historian Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) founded Negro History Week in 1926, a one-week celebration of Black history every annual February that eventually grew into the modern-day Black History Month celebrated worldwide.
Known as the Father of Black History, Woodson also launched The Journal of Negro History in 1915—a quarterly academic journal concerning Black life that’s still currently published as The Journal of African-American History by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.
Born the son of enslaved African-Americans in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson doggedly pursued education in spite of several obstacles.
Woodson’s family was large and poor; his poverty necessitated that he work as a coal miner; he received a high school diploma at the late age of 21.
Yet at 37, Woodson eventually received a Ph.D. from Harvard University, the second African-American to earn such a degree.
Woodson recognized the need to catalog the history of African-Americans, writing several books to this end, including the classic The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933).
After founding The Journal of Negro History, Woodson assumed positions at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the historically Black Howard University.
Negro History Week initially had many detractors, with critics feeling that Blacks were simply Americans without any need for an appreciation of their unique history.
Though Woodson met with some early resistance from both Black and white Americans, Black History Month has long been celebrated all throughout the United States as a special time devoted to the achievements and legacy of African-Americans.