A full appreciation of the celebration of Black History Month requires a review and a reassessment of the social and academic climate that prevailed in the Western world, and especially in North America before 1926 when Black History Month was established. .
It is important to recall that between 1619 and 1926, African Americans and other peoples of African descent were classified as a race that had not made any contribution to human civilization. Within the public and private sector, African Americans and other peoples of African descent were continually dehumanized and relegated to the position of non-citizens and often defined as fractions of humans. It is estimated that between 1890 and 1925, an African American was lynched every two and a half days. .
The academic and intellectual community was no different from the bulk of mainstream America. Peoples of African descent were visibly absent in any scholarship or intellectual discourse that dealt with human civilization. .
African Americans were so dehumanized and their history so distorted in academia that "slavery, peonage, segretation and lynching" were considered justifiable conditions. In fact, Professor John Burgess, the founder of Columbia University graduate school of Political Science and an important figure in American scholarship defined the African race as "a race of men which has never created any civilization of any kind." .
It was this kind of climate and the sensational, racist scholarship that inspired the talented and brilliant African American scholar, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson to lead the struggle and search for the truth and institutionalize what was then referred to as "Negro History Week". A Harvard trained Ph.D., Dr. Woodson dropped out of mainstream academia to devote his life to the scientific study of the African experience in America, Africa and throughout the world. .
Under Woodson's direction and contributions from other African American and white scholars, the "Negro History Week" was launched on a serious platform in 1926 to neutralize the apparent ignorance and deliberate distortion of Black History.