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Marshall announces centennial celebration of Negro History Week/Black History Month

University to co-sponsor series of observances with the City of Huntington, Marshall Health Network
In a groundbreaking initiative to honor and rediscover a rich history, Marshall University is collaborating with the City of Huntington and Marshall Health Network to commemorate a great epoch in the American story – the centennial of Negro History Week/Black History Month.

Marshall also is partnering with other local and national institutions including West Virginia State University, the Library of Congress and Cabell County Schools to produce a  series of observances, entitled “Celebrating an American Milestone: The Negro History Week/Black History Month Centennial, 1926-2026.” The observances will recognize the contributions of African Americans and the achievements of the annual Negro History Week/Black History Month events – as well as the enduring legacy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the revered Father of Black History who made his mark on our community before establishing this seminal work and reacquainting America and the world to Black contributions in history.

Marshall University President Brad D. Smith and Burnis Morris, the Carter G. Woodson Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications and director of The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum, are serving as co-chairs of the Negro History Week/Black History Month Centennial Committee – an all-star cast of public servants, historians and other experts. (The full list of committee members can be found here)

 “A century has passed since what started as Negro History Week developed into Black History Month, telling an essential part of this country’s story – and Marshall University is honored to join in the nation-wide centennial celebrations that uphold Dr. Woodson’s enduring legacy,” Smith said. “By looking back, we are better prepared to face forward. Our stories are intertwined, our histories are shared.”

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said Huntington should embrace being the birthplace of Black History Month.  “When we celebrate the historical achievements of the Black citizens of our community and beyond, it inspires endeavors that create opportunities for individuals of all races and ethnicities to enable prosperity for our city, region, state and country,” Williams said.

“As we come together to celebrate Dr. Woodson’s legacy, we are reminded of the importance of unity and diversity in strengthening our communities and paving the way for a brighter future,” said Kevin Yingling, MD, CEO of Marshall Health Network. “Marshall Health Network is proud to help honor the past, empower the present, and shape a more inclusive future for all.”

Dr. Woodson also orchestrated the beginning of the Black History Movement when he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) in 1915. Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney, a Centennial Committee member and national president of ASALH, said: “I am excited that we can participate in this centennial celebration in the community where our founder (Dr. Carter G. Woodson) spent some of his life educating young people and promoting the study of what was then called ‘Negro History.’”

Dr. Ericke S. Cage, another Centennial Committee member and president of West Virginia State University, said, “West Virginia State University is honored to be part of the Black History Month Centennial Committee and to help plan the activities that will commemorate and celebrate this historic milestone.” Dr. Cage added, “Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, shares an important connection to both West Virginia State University, where he served as an academic dean, and to the greater Huntington community where he was a leading educator at the former Douglass High School. His is only one of the many stories of Black Americans who have made a lasting impact on our state and nation that I hope we are able to lift up and celebrate during this Centennial Celebration.”

The announcement on April 3, 2024, is significant for followers of Dr. Woodson’s teachings because it marks the anniversary of his passing at age 74 in 1950 in Washington, D.C. Nearly 75 years later, the strength of his ideas continues to grow, and the upcoming activities aim to increase its momentum.

A centerpiece of the centennial celebration will be an Online Black History Courses Program of entry-level, non-credit courses (See separate release). Observances will also include a series of symposia in 2026, preceded by a Call for Papers in 2025 inviting presentations. Details of these activities will be provided later.

Morris, who authored the book, “Dr. Carter G. Woodson: History, the Black Press, and Public Relations,” said Marshall University is leading the celebration effort because the roots of Dr. Woodson’s program are directly traceable to his early years in Huntington and elsewhere in West Virginia.

Morris said, “Black West Virginians – from Booker T. Washington to Katherine Johnson and many others – have played pivotal roles in the state’s history, indeed in the history of the world.”

Before Dr. Woodson, few people believed Blacks had contributed much to human progress. His founding of the annual celebrations of Negro History Week profoundly altered such perceptions. Black History today is celebrated in many parts of the world.

Additional Information:

Negro History Week Timeline

Fifteen outstanding events in Black History (events named by Carter G. Woodson for Ebony magazine just before his death in 1950.)

 

 

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