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On the eve of Negro History Week in 1938, Carter G. Woodson was lecturing all who would listen about the proper way to celebrate. His stern, sharply-worded message, read now at the start of the 2020 Black History Month, seems like a gift — a study guide — for future generations.

“One of the important things to be done during Negro History Week, beginning on February 6, is to take an inventory of what we have achieved,” Woodson wrote in a newspaper column published in the Norfolk (Virginia) Journal and Guide and other newspapers. “From the past we must learn and with it we must face the future. Not to learn by experience means always to remain a child.” Woodson, who is credited with creating Negro History Week in 1926 and laying the foundations for its expansion to Black History Month in 1976, demanded that the public emphasize improving education as well as celebrating the role of blacks in history. He also insisted that participants evaluate black progress on a variety of issues, offering several questions to ascertain success.


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