First day of Black History Month proclaimed as Dr. Carter G. Woodson Day

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was given recognition for his hard work and achievements during a ceremony on Marshall University’s campus Wednesday, marking the beginning of Black History Month.

West Virginia officials proclaimed the first day of February 2017 as Dr. Carter G. Woodson Day, marking a day to honor an African-American writer and historian who is also known as being the “Father of Black History Month.”

Among those officials were Marshall’s President Dr. Jerome Gilbert, Burnis Morris, Marshall’s Dr. Carter G. Woodson Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Delegate Sean Hornbuckle of the West Virginia House of Delegates and representatives on behalf of Senator Bob Plymale, Governor Jim Justice, U.S. Senator’s Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins.

“Dr. Woodson is truly an admirable figure in our nation’s history,” Gilbert said. “He was at the forefront of bringing African American History to life, and escaped poverty through education.”

“He certainly embodied the notion that education and increasing social and professional contexts among blacks and whites could reduce racism, and he promoted an organized study of black history partly for that purpose.”

The proclamation marks Woodson’s work with establishing Black History Month in such a way that breaks the racial divide in the country and recognizes the effect he has had on the nation as a whole.

“Huntington is in the center of the world, and you can get anywhere from here,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “Carter G. Woodson demonstrated that in so many ways.”

Woodson became the second African American recipient of a Ph.D. at Harvard University and the only son or daughter of former slaves to receive a doctorate of history at any university.

“The influence of his teachings have been used annually by the presidents of the United States in proclaiming February as African American History month since president Gerald Ford,” Williams said.

“With everything that is going on in the world today, there couldn’t be a better time to have this event,” Hornbuckle said.

“A yearning for deeper thinking, acceptance, understanding, equality, and dare I say, freedom of expression and speech are all things included in an educated society, and it is the only way to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Earl Lewis, President of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the proclamation of Dr. Carter G. Woodson Day, and gave a presentation on what this event meant to him.

“Carter Woodson, Marshall University, and the work it has undertaken is part of the effort in saying that we can’t run away from our past,” Lewis said. “We have to embrace our past, be responsible for it, and realize that we are the architects of our own destiny.”

Jordan Nelson can be contacted at [email protected]