Socially conscious teachers all over the United States are gearing up for Black History Month, an annual celebration of the many outstanding contributions African Americans have made to our country. But did you know that Black History Month, itself, was the brainchild of a brilliant American teacher?
Educator Carter Godwin Woodson is credited with organizing and advocating annual Black History Month celebrations in American schools. He is also recognized as the first African American of slave parents to earn a doctorate in History. Admittedly, these are noteworthy accomplishments. But there is so much more to this brilliant man’s life story than is usually publicized. Did you know that, as a youngster, Carter was forced to work on the family farm rather than attend school? Nevertheless, he taught himself to read using the Bible and local newspapers. He didn’t finish high school until he was 20 years old. Did you know that he once worked as a coal miner in Fayette County, West Virginia, and then later went back there to teach school to the children of black coal miners, serving as a model for using education to get out of the mines? And did you know that Carter taught school in the Philippines, and then became the supervisor of schools, which included duties as a trainer of teachers, there?
To read more about this fascinating historical figure, check out my book, Chalkboard Champions.