Carter G. Woodson went to the Philippines in 1903 to help establish a new school system there (The first group to do this traveled aboard the U.S.S. Thomas and were therefore known as Thomasites.) Woodson, a Black educator, saw how the books and subjects that Filipino kids were being taught were completely outside of their own circumstances, their own story. The Filipinos’ lives and landscapes were excluded from the books and curriculum written and designed by white Americans.
During this profound experience, he was crafting his ideas about the education of Black folks in the continental United States, which he would dedicate his life to in the following years, holding posts like the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Howard.
Similar to the “education” of colonized Filipinos, African-Americans were receiving instruction that had little-to-nothing to do with their own story. As part of a larger philosophy of inclusive and meaningful education, Woodson initiated a celebration of Negro History Week in February, coinciding with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. This Week eventually became Black History Month.
Chances are, you didn’t learn this in school. There is plenty of work to do for all of us. Support real, innovative, and radical teaching and teachers.
Know the facts of history. Better yet: know its dream… and its feeling.