It’s Black History Month, so I am continuing with the reprint of a series of posts regarding Shaw resident and Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson and his book The Mis-Education of the Negro, published in 1933.
When reading this first paragraph from his chapter, remember the African American has been mis-educated:
IT seems only a reasonable proposition, then, that, if under the present system which produced our leadership in religion, politics, and business we have gone backward toward serfdom or have at least been kept from advancing to real freedom, it is high time to develop another sort of leadership with a different educational system. In the first place, we must bear in mind that the Negro has never been educated. He has merely been informed about other things which he has not been permitted to do. The Negroes have been shoved out of the regular schools through the rear door into the obscurity of the backyard and told to imitate others whom they see from afar, or they have been permitted in some places to come into the public schools to see how others educate themselves. The program for the uplift of the Negro in this country must be based upon a scientific study of the Negro from within to develop in him the power to do for himself what his oppressors will never do to elevate him to the level of others. [emphasis mine]
He has suggestions of how to move forward:
…Men of scholarship and consequently of prophetic insight must show us the right way and lead us into the light which shines brighter and brighter.
In the church where we have much freedom and independence we must get rid of preachers who are not prepared to help the people whom they exploit.
He has a lot of suggestions for the Black church. It furthers my doubt in his assumed atheism.
Regarding the places that produce the ‘highly educated’ Afro-Americans he’s thrown shade at:
We should not close any accredited Negro colleges or universities, but we should reconstruct the whole system. We should not eliminate many of the courses now being offered, but we should secure men of vision to give them from the point of view of the people to be served. We should not spend less money for the higher education of the Negro, but should redefine higher education as preparation to think and work out a program to serve the lowly rather than to live as an aristocrat.
In an alumni email I got it featured a woman, a new faculty member promoting Black English. I thought of her when reading this:
After Negro students have mastered the fundamentals of English, the principles of composition, and the leading facts in the development of its literature, they should not spend all of their time in advanced work on Shakespeare, Chaucer and Anglo-Saxon….
And the last paragraph of this chapter:
In our own particular history we would not dim one bit the luster of any star in our firmament. We would not learn less of George Washington, “First in War, First in Peace and First in the Hearts of his Countrymen”; but we would learn something also of the three thousand Negro soldiers of the American Revolution who helped to make this “Father of our Country” possible. We would not neglect to appreciate the unusual contribution of Thomas Jefferson to freedom and democracy; but we would invite attention also to two of his outstanding contemporaries, Phillis Wheatley, the writer of interesting verse, and Benjamin Banneker, the mathematician, astronomer, and advocate of a world peace plan set forth in 1793 with the vital principles of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations. We would in no way detract from the fame of Perry on Lake Erie or Jackson at New Orleans in the second struggle with England; but we would remember the gallant black men who assisted in winning these memorable victories on land and sea. We would not cease to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln as the “Savior of the Country”; but we would ascribe praise also to the one hundred and seventy-eight thousand Negroes who had to be mustered into the service of the Union before it could be preserved, and who by their heroism demonstrated that they were entitled to freedom and citizenship.