Carter Woodson – One Man Made a Difference … for Black History

Go Lean Commentary

Its February 1st – Black History Month commences…

Believe it or not, this was not always recognized or considered important. It was at the urging of one man that this cultural phenomenon came about. That one man is:

        Carter G. Woodson 

Yes, one man can make a difference. His research and archive accomplishments are fully recognized and celebrated, as is his subject – the contributions of the African-American people in the development of the United States. This high regard for Woodson is not just our opinion alone; today, Google has awarded Woodson with a Google Doodle – see above photo.

Also, see the full Wikipedia reference article on Carter Woodson in the Appendix below.

Though Woodson died in 1950 and the monthly observance started in 1970, he is still credited for the creation and fostering of this cultural phenomenon of Black History Month.

The movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – tracks and monitors the developments of the African-American community. Since the majority population of 28 of the 30 Caribbean member-states is Black, we share the same ancestral heritage (Africa), same colonial origins (slave trade), and same history of societal oppression as American Blacks. Plus the vast majority of our Caribbean Diaspora who fled their homeland lives in the US – one estimate is 22 million.

The Go Lean book posits that one person – an advocate like Woodson – can make a difference (Page 122). It relates:

An advocacy is an act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending a cause or subject. For this book, it’s a situational analysis, strategy or tactic for dealing with a narrowly defined subject.

Advocacies are not uncommon in modern history. There are many that have defined generations and personalities. Consider these notable examples from the last two centuries in different locales around the world:

  • Frederick Douglas
  • Mohandas Gandhi
  • Martin Luther King
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Cesar Chavez
  • Candice Lightner

We must now consider Carter G. Woodson in this ilk; he is deserving of double honor:

Let the elders who preside in a fine way be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching. – The Bible 1 Timothy 5:17

The Go Lean book seeks to advocate and teach the Caribbean – and the people who love it; it strives to learn lessons from history and direct regional stakeholders to a Way Forward from the dysfunctional past to a brighter future. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The book stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit – we must unite all of the Caribbean: Black, White, Red and Yellow – that the problems are too big for any one Caribbean member-state alone. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 14):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora …

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts … of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts … in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

xxxiii. Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of communities like East Germany, Detroit, Indian (Native American) Reservations, Egypt and the previous West Indies Federation. On the other hand, the Federation must also implement the good examples learned from developments/ communities …

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

The Go Lean movement calls on every man, woman and child in the Caribbean to be an advocate, and/or appreciate the efforts of previous advocates. Their examples can truly help us today with our passions and purpose. Consider this sample of prior blog/commentaries where advocates and role models have been elaborated upon: Dr. Thomas W. Mason – FAMU Professor & STEM Influencer Oscar López Rivera – The ‘Nelson Mandela’ of the Caribbean? Caribbean Roots: Al Roker – ‘Climate Change’ Defender Caribbean Roots: John Carlos – The Man. The Moment. The Movement Caribbean Roots: Esther Rolle of ‘Good Times’ Caribbean Roots: Sammy Davis, Jr. Edward Snowden – One Person Making a Difference Remembering Marcus Garvey: Still Relevant Today The NBA’s Tim Duncan – Champion On and Off the Court YouTube Millionaire: ‘Tipsy Bartender’ Role Model Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight Frederick Douglass: Role Model for Single Cause – Death or Diaspora Bob Marley: The legend lives on!

In summary, we conclude about Carter Woodson as we do about our own Caribbean historians and advocates; we say (Go Lean book conclusion Page 252):

Thank you for your service, love and commitment to all Caribbean people. We will take it from here.

The movement behind the Go Lean book, the planners of a new Caribbean stresses that a ‘change is going to come’, one way or another. We have endured failure for far too long; we have seen what works and what does not. We want to learn from history – the good, bad and ugly lessons. We have looked, listened, learned and lend-a-hand since then. We are now ready to lead our region to a better destination, to being a homeland that is better to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix Reference Title: Carter G. Woodson 

Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950)[1] was an American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study African-American history. A founder of The Journal of Negro History in 1916, Woodson has been cited as the “father of black history“.[2] In February 1926 he launched the celebration of “Negro History Week”, the precursor of Black History Month.[3]

[He] was born in Buckingham County, Virginia[4] on December 19, 1875, the son of former slaves, James and Eliza Riddle Woodson.[5] His father helped Union soldiers during the Civil War and moved his family to West Virginia when he heard that Huntington was building a high school for blacks.

Coming from a large, poor family, Carter Woodson could not regularly attend school. Through self-instruction, he mastered the fundamentals of common school subjects by the age of 17. Wanting more education, he went to Fayette County to earn a living as a miner in the coal fields, and was able to devote only a few months each year to his schooling.

In 1895, at the age of 20, Woodson entered Douglass High School, where he received his diploma in less than two years.[6] From 1897 to 1900, Woodson taught at Winona in Fayette County. In 1900 he was selected as the principal of Douglass High School. He earned his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in Kentucky in 1903 by taking classes part-time between 1901 and 1903. From 1903 to 1907, Woodson was a school supervisor in the Philippines.

Woodson later attended the University of Chicago, where he was awarded an A.B. and A.M. in 1908. He was a member of the first black professional fraternity Sigma Pi Phi[7] and a member of Omega Psi Phi. He completed his PhD in history at Harvard University in 1912, where he was the second African American (after W. E. B. Du Bois) to earn a doctorate.[8] His doctoral dissertation, The Disruption of Virginia, was based on research he did at the Library of Congress while teaching high school in Washington, D.C. After earning the doctoral degree, he continued teaching in public schools, later joining the faculty at Howard University as a professor, and served there as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Convinced that the role of his own people in American history and in the history of other cultures was being ignored or misrepresented among scholars, Woodson realized the need for research into the neglected past of African Americans. Along with Alexander L. Jackson and three associates, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History on September 9, 1915, in Chicago.[9][10] That was the year Woodson published The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861. His other books followed: A Century of Negro Migration (1918) and The History of the Negro Church (1927). His work The Negro in Our History has been reprinted in numerous editions and was revised by Charles H. Wesley after Woodson’s death in 1950.

In January 1916, Woodson began publication of the scholarly Journal of Negro History. It has never missed an issue, despite the Great Depression, loss of support from foundations, and two World Wars. In 2002, it was renamed the Journal of African American History and continues to be published by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Woodson believed that education and increasing social and professional contacts among blacks and whites could reduce racism and he promoted the organized study of African-American history partly for that purpose. He would later promote the first Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in 1926, forerunner of Black History Month.[13] The Bronzeville neighborhood declined during the late 1960s and 1970s like many other inner-city neighborhoods across the country, and the Wabash Avenue YMCA was forced to close during the 1970s, until being restored in 1992 by The Renaissance Collaborative.[14]

He served as Academic Dean of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, now West Virginia State University, from 1920 to 1922.[15]

He studied many aspects of African-American history. For instance, in 1924, he published the first survey of free black slaveowners in the United States in 1830.[16]

He once wrote: “If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

Woodson became affiliated with the Washington, D.C. branch of the NAACP, and its chairman Archibald Grimké. On January 28, 1915, Woodson wrote a letter to Grimké expressing his dissatisfaction with activities and making two proposals:

  1. That the branch secure an office for a center to which persons may report whatever concerns the black race may have, and from which the Association may extend its operations into every part of the city; and
  2. That a canvasser be appointed to enlist members and obtain subscriptions for The Crisis, the NAACP magazine edited by W. E. B. Du Bois.

Du Bois added the proposal to divert “patronage from business establishments which do not treat races alike,” that is, boycott businesses. Woodson wrote that he would cooperate as one of the twenty-five effective canvassers, adding that he would pay the office rent for one month. [But] Grimké did not welcome Woodson’s ideas. …

[Woodson’s] difference of opinion with Grimké, who wanted a more conservative course, contributed to Woodson’s ending his affiliation with the NAACP.

Black History Month
Woodson devoted the rest of his life to historical research. He worked to preserve the history of African Americans and accumulated a collection of thousands of artifacts and publications. He noted that African-American contributions “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”[18] Race prejudice, he concluded, “is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.”[18]

In 1926, Woodson pioneered the celebration of “Negro History Week”,[19] designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.[20] However, it was the Black United Students and Black educators at Kent State University that founded Black History Month, on February 1, 1970.[21] Six years later Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”[22]

Woodson believed in self-reliance and racial respect, values he shared with Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican activist who worked in New York. Woodson became a regular columnist for Garvey’s weekly Negro World.

Death and legacy
Woodson died … within his home in … Washington, D.C., on April 3, 1950, at the age of 74.

The time that schools have set aside each year to focus on African-American history is Woodson’s most visible legacy. His determination to further the recognition of the Negro in American and world history, however, inspired countless other scholars. Woodson remained focused on his work throughout his life. Many see him as a man of vision and understanding. Although Woodson was among the ranks of the educated few, he did not feel particularly sentimental about elite educational institutions. The Association and journal that he started are still operating, and both have earned intellectual respect.

Source: Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – retrieved February 1, 2018 from:


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