Friday, January 25, 2008

Black History Month Theme 2008: Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has announced the Black History Month Theme for 2008: "Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism." This year, educators and leaders across the country will celebrate and commemorate the contributions of Harvard-educated historian, Carter G. Woodson, a pioneer in the establishment and study of African American historiography.

Born from parents who were ex-slaves and could not read or write in Virginia, he was determined to attend school and earn a college degree. The turning point in his life was when none of the courses he studied included the history of Black Americans. When he pursued doctoral studies at Harvard University, he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH) and "Negro History Week" as a way to share cultural and historical knowledge about Black people around the world. His work with white scholars helped neutralize the racial stereotypes and historical ignorance that negatively labeled African Americans for many centuries.

Today, Negro History Week has expanded to the entire month of February. Similar Black heritage celebrations have arisen and expanded in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. More communities are researching and learning about their own cultural backgrounds from scholars, journalists, archivers and educators who have continued to make the study and teaching of African American history more accessible than ever.

"...Carter G. Woodson did most to forge an intellectual movement to educate Americans about cultural diversity and democracy. For the sake of African Americans and all Americans, Woodson heralded the contributions of African Americans and the black tradition. In 1915, he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and by the time of his death in 1950, he had laid the foundation for a rethinking of American identity. The multiculturalism of our times is built on the intellectual and institutional labors of Woodson and the association he established. He should be known not simply as the Father of Black History, but as [a] pioneer of multiculturalism as well." -- ASALH

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