Appendix: Much Ado about a Name

A participant who recently attended an historical meeting desired to take up the question as to what the race should be called. Africans, Negroes, colored people, or what? This is a matter of much concern to him because he hopes thereby to solve the race problem. If others will agree to call Negroes Nordics, he thinks, he will reach the desired end by taking a short cut.

This may sound all but insane, but there are a good many "highly educated" Negroes who believe that such can be accomplished by this shift in terminology; and they have spent time and energy in trying to effect a change. Many of this class suffer mentally because of the frequent use of "offensive expressions" in addressing Negroes. When dealing with them, then, one has to be very careful. For this reason our friends in other races have to seek guidance in approaching us. For example, Lady Simon, the wife of Sir John Simon of the British Cabinet, has recently asked an American Negro what his people prefer to be called, and later in England she took up the same matter with another member of this race. Being an advocate of freedom, she has written considerably to advance its cause. She would not like to use in her works, then, an expression which may hurt some one's feelings.

Although a student of social problems, this learned woman cannot fathom this peculiar psychology. Americans, too, must confess the difficulty of understanding it, unless it is that the "highly educated Negro mind" tends to concern itself with trifles rather than with the great problems of life. We have known Negroes to ask for a separate Y. M. C. A. or Y. W. C. A., a separate church or a separate school, and then object to calling the institution colored or Negro. These segregationists have compromised on principle, but they are unwilling to acknowledge their crime against justice. The name, they believe, will save them from the disgrace.

It does not matter so much what the thing is called as what the thing is. The Negro would not cease to be what he is by calling him something else; but, if he will struggle and make something of himself and contribute to modern culture, the world will learn to look upon him as an American rather than as one of an undeveloped element of the population.

The word Negro or black is used in referring to this particular element because most persons of native African descent approach this color. The term does not imply that every Negro is black; and the word white does not mean that every white man is actually white. Negroes may be colored, but many Caucasians are scientifically classified as colored. We are not all Africans, moreover, because many of us were not born in Africa; and we are not all Afro-Americans, because few of us are natives of Africa transplanted to America.

There is nothing to be gained by running away from the name. The names of practically all races and nations at times have connoted insignificance and low social status. Angles and Saxons, once the slaves of Romans, experienced this; and even the name of the Greek for a while meant no more than this to these conquerors of the world. The people who bore these names, however, have made them grand and illustrious. The Negro must learn to do the same.

It is strange, too, that while the Negro feels ashamed of his name, persons abroad do not usually think of it in this sense. One does find in Europe a number of West Indian and American Negroes of some Caucasian blood, who do not want to be known as Negroes. As a rule, however, a European of African Negro blood feels proud of this racial heritage and delights to be referred to as such. The writer saw a striking case of this in London in the granddaughter of a Zulu chief. She is so far removed from the African type that one could easily mistake her for a Spaniard; and yet she thinks only for her African connection and gets her inspiration mainly from the story of her people beyond the Pillars of Hercules.

The writer was agreeably surprised a few days later, too, when he met a prominent Parisian with the same attitude. He has produced several volumes in which he champions the cause of the Negro because he has in his veins the same blood. A well-to-do European woman, the daughter of a Dutchman and an African mother, is similarly enthusiastic over her Negro blood. The first thing she mentioned in conversing with the writer was that black mother. This young woman expressed the regret that she did not have more of that color that she, too, might say, as do members of certain tribes of Africa: "I am black and comely. I am black and beautiful. I am beautifully black."

These people surprise you when you think of the attitude of many American Negroes on this question. These race-conscious people can think, but it is seldom that the American Negro indulges in such an exercise. He has permitted other people to determine for him the attitude that he has toward his own people. This means the enslavement of his mind and eventually the enslavement of his body.

Some Europeans rather regard the word Negro as romantic. Going now along the streets of Paris, one will see advertised such places as "l'Elan Noir," and the "Café au Nègre de Toulouse." In one of these cases the writer was especially attracted by the "Choppe du Nègre" end took dinner there one day. The cuisine was excellent, the music rendered by the orchestra was charming, and a jolly crowd came to enjoy themselves. However, he was the only "Nègre" there.

Walking along a street in Geneva not long ago, the writer's attention was attracted to something of the sort, which is still more significant. It was a wholesale coffee house called "A La Case de l'Oncle Tom." He entered and asked: "Why did you give this store such a name?" The proprietress laughed and explained that her grandfather, François Prudhom, who had read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and had been deeply impressed thereby, selected this name for the store when he established it in 1866.
NOT long ago the writer saw on a street ear one of the prettiest women in the world. She was a perfectly black woman becomingly dressed in suitable gray and modest adornments which harmonized with her color. She was naturally a commanding figure without any effort to please others, for her bearing was such that she would not fail to attract attention. He could not restrain myself from gazing at her; and, looking around to see whether others were similarly concerned, he found the whites in the car admiring her also, even to the point of commenting among themselves.

This woman's common sense, manifested in knowing how to dress, had made her color an asset rather than a liability. The writer easily recalled, then, that tribe in Africa that feels unusually proud of being black. We are told that they are so anxious to be black that if they find one of the group with a tendency to depart the least from this color they go to the heart of nature and extract from it its darkest dye and paint therewith that native's face that he may continue perfectly black.

Here in America, however, we are ashamed of being black. So many of us who are actually black powder our faces and make ourselves blue. In so doing we become all but hideous by the slavish aping of those around us in keeping with our custom of imitation. We fail to take ourselves for what we are actually worth, and do not make the most of ourselves.

We show lack of taste in the selection of our dress. We long for what others wear whether it harmonizes with our color or not They have given particular attention to design with respect to their race and have written books to this effect. Thinking, however, that the Negro is not supposed to wear anything but what the poor may pick up, the artists have not thought seriously of him. Both teachers and students of nearby schools thus concerned, then, repeatedly appeal to us for help in the study of design with respect to the Negro, but we have nothing scientific to offer them. We have no staff of artists who can function in this sphere.

To be able to supply this need requires the most painstaking effort to understand colors and color schemes. It is a very difficult task because of the variation of color within the race. Sometimes in one family of ten you will hardly find two of the same shade. To dress them all alike may be economical, but the world thereby misses that much of beauty. The Negro mother, then, needs to be the real artist, and the schools now training the youth to be the parents of tomorrow should give as much attention to these things esthetic as they do to language, literature or mathematics.

In neglecting to know himself better from this point of view, then, the Negro is making a costly mistake. He should be deeply concerned with the esthetic possibilities of his situation. In this so-called Negro race we have the prettiest people in the world, when they dress in harmony with the many shades and colors with which we are so richly endowed. Why do we so away from home to find what we already have on hand?

Recently one saw in Washington a demonstration of the value of color when the Masonic conclave staged a tremendous parade in this national city. The whites were attracted to the upstanding, outstanding Negroes so becomingly bedecked in costumes of the Orient. This, however, was accidental. The color of the Negroes happened to be Oriental, and the colors of this order were originally worked out to suit the people of those parts. The dead white of the Caucasian does not harmonize with such garb. Why, then should the Negro worry about what others wear?

Carrying the imitation of others to an extreme today, we do not find ourselves far in advance of the oppressed antebellum Negroes, who, unable to dress themselves, had to take whatever others threw at them. We make a most hideous spectacle, then, when we are on dress parade in our social atmosphere. So many of us clad in unbecoming colors often look like decorated pet horses turned loose for an hour or so of freedom.

Appreciating the value of color, the artists in European cities are trying to change their hue to that of the colored people. They can understand how inexpressive the dead white is, and they are trying to make use of what we are seeking to conceal. The models in their shops are purposely colored to display to good effect the beautiful costumes which require color. Some of these Europeans frankly tell Negroes how they envy them for their color.

One is not surprised, then, to find European cafés and hotels employing American or African Negroes to supply this color which the Europeans lack. Pictures of such black men are sometimes displayed to great effect. That of Josephine Baker adorns the windows of large stores in Paris. Here in America, too, we observe that art centres are likewise getting away from the dead white to enjoy the richness of color.

The writer felt somewhat encouraged recently when he talked with a Washington lady who runs "The Pandora," a unique establishment devoted to design. Upon inquiring about her progress in the effort to teach colored people how to wear what becomes them, she reported considerable success. Sometimes customers insist on purchasing unbecoming attire, but usually she has shown them the unwisdom of so doing, and most of them now take her advice.

In this way this enterprising woman is not only conducting a pioneer business, but she is rendering a social service. She has not had any special training in this work, but on her initiative she is building upon what she has learned by studying the Negroes in her community. Others of us may do likewise, if we try to help the Negro rather than exploit him.



Considerable time has passed since the first printing of this volume, but it is significant that it has meaning and direct implications for today's consideration. While it does not relate exclusively to Black History it does emphasize its instruction, research and writing. In substance Carter Woodson has produced a definitive and constructive critique of the educational system, with special reference to its blighting effects on the Negro; and the term he used, Mis-education, was the most apt and descriptive word available. It is still, in 1969, equally as relevant and expressive. Now, however, it is loudly articulated by many voices of Whites as well as Blacks, who likewise challenge the system.

The most imperative and crucial element in Woodson's concept of mis-education hinged on the education system's failure to present authentic Negro History in schools and the bitter knowledge that there was a scarcity of literature available for such a purpose, because most history books gave little or no space to the black man's presence in America. Some of them contained casual references to Negroes but these generally depicted them in menial, subordinate roles, more or less sub-human. Such books stressed their good fortune at having been exposed, through slavery, to the higher (white man's) civilization. There were included derogatory statements relating to the primitive, heathenish quality of the African background, but nothing denoting skills, abilities, contributions or potential in the image of the Blacks, in Africa or America. Woodson considered this state of affairs deplorable, an American tragedy, dooming the Negro to a brain-washed acceptance of the inferior role assigned to him by the dominant race, and absorbed by him through his schooling.

Moreover, the neglect of Afro-American History and distortion of the facts concerning Negroes in most history books, deprived the black child and his whole race of a heritage, and relegated him to nothingness and nobodyness. This was Woodson's conviction as he stated it in this book and as he lived by it. In his Annual Report of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History for the year ending June 30, 1933, the publication period of Mis-Education, he stated:

Regarding the Negro race as a factor in world culture rather than as an element in a sequestered sphere, the Director (Woodson) has recently made two trips to Europe to extend the study of the notice taken of Negroes by European authors and artists, and to engage a larger number of Europeans and Africans in the study of the past of the Negro.

Thus it is evident that the stress which Dr. Woodson places on historical research, writing, and teaching in this volume was not theoretical jargon. It represented rather, a firm belief; also a judgement of the available type of education that was so strongly oriented as to warrant his complete and selfless dedication to its betterment. This devotion became a crusade which, in the above instance, carried him to Europe in an effort to open new avenues for recreating and writing of the black man's past. This was in line with his basic charges against the omission by most historians of such an important part of history.

Mis-Education criticizes the system, and explains the vicious circle that results from mis-educated individuals graduating, then proceeding to teach and mis-educate others. But the book is by no means a study in negation. The author goes to great lengths in tracing the historical foundations of the problem, its development, and its influence on interpersonal relations and historical scholarship. Numerous other scholars now follow its example.

The youths of the race were Woodson's particular concern because he recognized that it was with, the boys and girls that Mis-education began, later crystallizing into deep-seated insecurities, intra-racial cleavages, and interracial antagonisms. All of these factors have been discussed over and over in the immediate past, by historians, sociologists, psychiatrists, and laymen, but Dr. Woodson, and a pitifully small number of others, had pointed the way a full generation earlier.

More so than most of his contemporaries did Woodson contribute because he gave up a prestigious educational career, including a school principalship in Washington, D.C., the position of Dean at both Howard University and West Virginia State College. He decided instead to devote his finances and energies to an association which would help to overcome the inadequacies of the system which promoted mis-education. This was not by any means his first book but the views expressed herein form a sort of core or center, to and from which his texts and other writings protrude and revert.

All of this scholar's researches and writings were designed to provide educational sustenance, to fill the void which existed by reason of neglect of Black Studies. As has been already observed, however, he was no mere theorist, he was an activist and a pragmatist. He knew that writing alone would be inadequate for the enormity of the need. Consequently he, with four others, founded The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, established the Journal of Negro History, and concentrated mightily on the educational aspect of his program, trying to counteract the poison of mis-education. In regard to these efforts he reported:

The calls on the Research Department for assistance to teachers and students have multiplied so as to make this phase of the work a heavy burden on a small staff. Instructors now taking up the study of the Negro require help in working out courses in this new field; and their students are urged to make frequent use of the Department by correspondence or a visit to the home of the Association.

That statement is just as relevant in today's situation as it was when Woodson made it! As a matter of fact it might be copied and used by the present Director of the Association and it would be true except that the demand for services has increased a thousand-fold. The study of the Black man is still new in this generation, but such advances as have been made are in large part due to the vision, insight, writings, and publishing of pioneers like Carter Woodson. Indeed his analyses and conclusions regarding the entire educational system and its unrelatedness to future needs of the students stand firm, on solid ground. They were extendable to the 1960's, and student attitudes and actions make it quite clear that the reasoning and recommendations of Mis-Education constitute a convenient point of departure for the current reformation of educational institutions.

If Woodson had been content with merely writing his own articles and books his contribution would have been monumental, because his production was tremendous and his methodology was scientific. He, however, conceived of this historical vacuum in terms of such magnitude that no one historian could possibly do enough research and writing to seek the facts, organize and present them, and correct the false and distorted information which had been passed off for true history for many generations. Consequently he sought, encouraged, and published the works of other scholars who shared his convictions and his sense of urgency in the premises.

As one noteworthy example, Lawrence D. Reddick has an analytical article of forty pages in the Journal of Negro History entitled "Racial Attitudes in American History Textbooks of the South."
3 In line with Woodson's complaints this author pointed out that the average pupil received a picture of slavery which generally managed to justify it, to explain the climate and economic conditions which fastened it to the South, and to minimize the hardships for blacks by emphasizing their good nature and song-singing. The textbook authors stressed the fact that there had been no practical way to free southern slaves, and blamed the northern abolitionists for the hardening of southern attitudes.

There was virtually nothing in the textbooks he explored that referred to the role and development of the Negro in national life after Reconstruction. His activities in the wars and national defense were completely ignored, and illustrations for all periods were almost non-existent. Thus this article, accepted, edited, and published by Woodson, in all respects bore out his grievance against Mis-education, and it went to the very heart of his thesis.

In the same issue of the Journal of Negro History another article reinforced his views from a different investigative angle. Thomas L. Dabney made a survey of Negro and white colleges to determine the ones which offered courses in Negro History and/or Literature, or Race Relations; the Negro public schools which offered Negro History and/or Negro Literature; and the enrollment figures for both colleges and pre-college students. He also explained the purposes and progress of Negro History Week, as well as the home study courses offered by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and its clubs in their states.

Another respected educator, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, was strongly aware of the substantive character of Dr. Woodson's charges of Mis-Education, particularly with regard to the curriculum under which the southern Negro child studied. In that connection he wrote, "The activities of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History may ... be said to represent a Negro nationalism which is a reaction against the 'white' nationalism of the American people."

Then, referring to the curriculum builders who took "for granted that white supremacy had to be maintained," Bond declared:

The load of what appears to the present writer, and Dr. Woodson, as propaganda, was not so considered by the former writers of southern textbooks, nor is it today.

Thus it is apparent that Dr. Bond was either influenced by or was in agreement with the mis-education ideas which constituted so vital a part of Dr. Woodson's entire theory of the unfavorable effect of the American educational system on black children.

Many of the investigations were concentrated on the Southland and that is understandable. The hulk of the Negro population then lived below the Mason-Dixon line where no blacks were admitted to the white schools or colleges, and the dual system of education was obviously and definitely designed to perpetuate the Negro-inferiority image of the slavery period. Dr. Woodson also condemned the North for discrimination. As one who had studied at northern universities, The University of Chicago, and Harvard University, where he received the Ph.D degree, his experiences and observations enabled him to make valid judgments about that section.

One of his intellectual contemporaries, another Harvard-trained scholar, W. E. B. DuBois, was especially outspoken on northern education for Negroes, believing with Woodson, that it propagandized and indoctrinated youth, draining them of self-confidence, self-respect, and self-knowledge.

In 1935 DuBois wrote:

... race prejudice in the United States today is such that most Negroes cannot receive proper education in white institutions ... many public school systems in the North where Negroes are admitted and tolerated but they are not educated; they are crucified ... certain Northern universities where Negro students ... cannot get fair recognition, either in classroom or on the campus, in dining hall or student activities, or in human common courtesy ... at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, Negroes are admitted but not welcomed; while in other institutions like Princeton they cannot even enroll.

In further development of his thesis that Blacks needed special education, Dr. DuBois made a point-blank statement with respect to a constructive means of overcoming the mis-education to which they were subjected:

Negroes must know the history of the Negro race in America, and this they will seldom get in white institutions. Their children ought to study textbooks like Brawley's "Short History," the first edition of Woodson's "Negro in Our History," and Cromwell, Turner, and Dykes' "Readings from Negro Authors." Negroes who celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, and relatively unimportant "founders" of various Negro colleges, ought not to forget the 5th of March,—that first national holiday of this country, which commemorates the martyrdom of Crispus Attucks. They ought to celebrate Negro Health Week and Negro History Week. They ought to study intelligently and from their own point of view, the slave trade, slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction and present economic development.

Dr. DuBois proceeded then to explain in careful detail that he was making no special plea for segregated schools, or mixed schools, but for education. To use his language:

... a separate Negro school where children are treated like human beings, trained by teachers of their own race, who know what it means to be black in the year of salvation 1935, is infinitely better than making our boys and girls doormats to be spit and trampled upon and lied to by ignorant social climbers, whose sole claim to superiority is ability to kick "niggers" when they are down.

The foregoing observations relate directly to the problems of mis-education, well understood and posed by Woodson; and the same problems are at long last being faced and attacked by the very universities identified by DuBois and many others. These institutions, formerly known only as "white" colleges, are now heeding the black demands, and are soliciting black students, even at the expense of the "quota systems," once so firmly entrenched. The "cry in the wilderness" of Woodson in Mis-Education, and his few like-minded cohorts, has become a resounding chorus, and the reverberations will in time shake the mis from Mis-education.

The scholars under discussion all shared a common goal, namely, to provide for Negro youth access to historical information and education which would be true and thus nullify or diminish the false and belittling propaganda type of history which had been handed to them by whites. This, it was felt, would build up the black child's self and race knowledge as well as his self-respect. In a larger sense they expected that their publications would at least partly fill the unjustifiable void in American History and its antecedents, reveal the existing distortions of actual facts, and constitute a service to the entire field of historical and social science writing and understanding.

Ultimately, thought Woodson and those who had similar beliefs, the program would be a responsible factor in regenerating race relations in all areas and not only in education. Without detracting from any other efforts (and there were others) it is reasonably certain that those writers who tried so zealously to right the wrongs of mis-education exerted a positive influence in that direction. As a result the democratic practices of this society are beginning to reach for its ideology, thus narrowing the long-existing cultural lag.

It is, in fact, quite clear that Woodson regarded this book as historical only in its most inclusive sense—history as interrelated with social customs, literature, economic and political matters and all else that affects society. This is a sensible and legitimate approach, as such historians as Spengler and Toynbee have demonstrated by popularizing broad areas and issues. Woodson was familiar with the tendency to include the intangible factors that influence the course of history—psychological elements and traditional sensitivities, based of course on valid historical methodology. He fitted Mis-Education into that framework.

Necessarily he thought in terms of other aspects of society which influenced education and which were, in turn influenced by it, because all of his writings show that he was convinced of the interrelations of all types of social phenomena. Furthermore, when he published Mis-Education, the nation was in the throes of a paralyzing economic depression, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was on the verge of his vigorous and innovative administration. The "separate but equal" myth then afforded respectable legal sanction for an unequal, caste-like society, in education and all areas of national life. Permissive resignation had settled over much of the Negro population, and a majority rationalized that the caricature of education that they received was at least "better than it used to be."

The debilitating depression had thrust the problems of the Negro, as the lowest socioeconomic class, into the forefront of those in dire need. As an educator of stature who was already engaged in his intensive writing and publishing program, the role of the disadvantageous educational system in keeping the black people on the lowest level, became abundantly clear to Woodson. Hence his attempts to analyze the problem and to define and castigate the type of education that confined Negroes in a vice-like grip of inferiority was designed not only to inform other historians and educators of their own derelictions, but to arouse the black people from their apathy. Mis-Education did not immediately have the impact that he hoped, but in the long run it merges now with the researches of the awakened historians and other educators; the demands of several minority groups, which have discovered each other; the insistence of students on racial equality and relevant curricula; and the clamor of the downtrodden masses for appropriate treatment as fellow human beings.

Dr. Woodson, in adopting a comprehensive, overall view of the problem of education in this book, was strongly prophetic, and showed a rare intellectual kinship with those who would move to the forefront in the next generation. His statement (p. 114), "The warring area, then, is in the cities," is highly pertinent to current circumstances, as are also the points in context which he connected with it. Another idea that he expressed with clarity (p. 117) in the sentences which follow, will be recognized at once for its present relevance:

The race will free itself from exploiters just as soon as it decides to do so. No one else can accomplish this task for the race. It must plan and do for itself.

Another matter connected with Mis-education should be noted. The inferior character of black education was made inevitable by virtue of the poor financing of the segregated school systems. Although most Northern states had some racially-mixed schools, education in the sixteen southern, former slave states, plus Oklahoma and the District of Columbia, forming a bloc, provided the pattern, the atmosphere, and the reflection of Negro problems and general attitudes of whites about black education in the United States.

This southern bloc maintained a completely segregated system, and though there were differences in one category or another in spending money for education among its jurisdictions they had one common denominator—there were great differentials between moneys allocated for white education and black education. In 1930 the average expenditure per school-age child was $45.00 per white pupil and $14.95 per Negro pupil. Average southern investment in public school property per school-child amounted to $120.09 for whites and $29.62 for Negroes. Figures for 1928-1929 disclose that the average southern white teacher's pupil load was 31 for a school term of 164 days, while the average black teacher instructed about 44 pupils for 144 days. The average white teacher's salary was $1020, while the average black teacher earned $524.

These figures were frustratingly well known to Dr. Woodson. As a participator in the field of education, an observer, a scholar and a reformer, he had long studied the disparities in the dual system. Before 1930 he had become thoroughly alarmed because the differentials between white and black education were increasing rather than diminishing, and that knowledge undoubtedly motivated some of the pessimism which creeps through in this volume.

Early in his Preface to Mis-Education the author takes a positive stand for tax money to be allocated in such manner that "every individual in the social order" should be given the opportunity to do his best. He rejected the objective notion of "progress" taken from statistical data, and injected a qualitative criteria which would judge the effectiveness of education by whether it was instrumental in making an individual "do and think for himself." With respect to Negro education in particular, it would require much study of the race and the role of its members in society. The dual system did not afford the opportunity for such study. As Woodson evaluated then, the inequity of the two societies within the nation, black and white, with its financial and propagandistic suppression of blacks through education and otherwise, was efficiently responsible for the social ills that he so deplored. He was really aiming a direct blow at the rationale which the South used to justify the dual school system; and his position was vindicated by the United States Supreme Court in the 1950's, and subsequently by public opinion. When he suggested equal educational opportunities regardless of financial status or race he was more or less anticipating the "social citizen" concept of the incoming administration, although President Roosevelt did not implement his concept to its logical conclusion.

When Woodson likewise made observations to the effect that information alone was not education, he was not stating a unique or isolated theory. Other educators agreed, but many who professed to adhere to the notion did so in a merely abstract fashion. The author of this book very carefully elaborated and illustrated the thesis. He sought for meaningful, qualitative training, yet most educational institutions held fast to their rigid, inflexible programs, under which much of the required subject-matter might prove useful as intellectual discipline, but not to the life interests of the hapless, captive students. It was Woodson's idea that this system was most devastating to the black children whose schools were inferior, and whose future life interests were farthest removed from the traditional curricula. In recent years, and frequently by reason of student pressures, colleges have been reappraising and restructuring their programs, not necessarily because of Woodson's long-ago reasoning but surely in line with it.

The Preface to Mis-Education also contains a statement that the educational systems of both Europe and the United States were antiquated and failed to hit the mark for either race. A bold and daring assertion in 1933, to be sure, but Woodson had successfully pursued education in both Europe and America. It is evident now that his judgement was projected far beyond its utterance, as witness the student movements which are presently accelerating, and assuming differing and ever more demanding forms. In further attestation note also the trend toward "vocational" education; and the frenzied effort to incorporate Black Studies at all educational levels.

Indeed long before this present climactic phase, there had been a rising racial consciousness and a new stridency to the demands by American Negroes. By the start of World War II the sacred cow of segregation was being reexamined more vigorously than ever before. Such scholars as Frazier, Myrdal, Silberman and others were writing sociologically with candor and verve on racial problems, while Woodson continued his even and uninterrupted interpretation of these problems, plus writing historical books, papers, and engaging in other journalistic endeavors. Cynicism and disillusionment among blacks had spread and become crystallized into a determination to make equality real. The indictments against discrimination were even more virile than Woodson's had been in Mis-Education some years earlier, and they covered more thoroughly the entire spectrum of race relations, but there was a direct line of descent from the educational castigation of 1933 to the more vigorous racial agitation and writings of the next decade.

Carter G. Woodson did not propose, in Mis-Education, such drastic action as the mass protest movement of A. Phillip Randolph in 1941, but then he did not have the type of support which later materialized; nor had there been in 1933 the mass militancy to which World War II gave birth. His was a modest demand, as really were the goals of Randolph's movement when judged by the scope of later demands and achievements. But if one seeks to comprehend the present culmination period in race relations, he must turn back to those earlier efforts and acknowledge the ideas and the work which "seeded the ground" as it were, and made possible a climate of opinion within which concerted action for equality could germinate and grow to fruition. This intellectual climate was possible because the research, writings, and publications of a dedicated scholar like Woodson had provided the historical information, the impetus, and the inspiration for black people to acquire a worthwhile self and race image, to make a start toward overcoming the inferiority complex which had for so long been an emotional prison. Looking back in such manner is a major purpose of history, and in that context the reissuing of this book is both appropriate and necessary.

It will be of great interest for readers to note the similarity in Woodson, the critic, as he looks at education in his day and the day in which we live. Black youth seems to be asking for what Woodson wanted as he expressed it in these pages. His philosophy was not only sound for him but it is sound for them, as they make the same demands of administrators for Black Studies, Black Curricula and Black personnel. It is for this reason that we publish this volume. It had a message for Yesterday and it has a message which Black and white should know for Today.
Charles H. Wesley and Thelma D. Perry

1 Annual Report of the Director of the Association for the [return] Study of Negro Life and History, Incorporated, July 1, 1932 to June 30, 1933. Washington, D. C. p. 4

2 Annual Report, ibid., July 1, 1929 to June 30, 1930. p. 4 [return]

3 Lawrence D. Reddick, "Racial Attitudes in American History [return] Books in the South." The Journal of Negro History Volume XIX No. 3, July, 1934 pp. 225-265

4 Thomas L. Dabney, "The Study of the Negro." The Journal [return] of Negro History ibid., pp. 265-307

5 Horace Mann Bond, "The Curriculum and the Negro Child" [return] Journal of Negro Education Volume IV No. 2, April, 1935. p. 163 ff.

6 ibid. [return]

7 W. E. Burghardt DuBois "Does the Negro Need Separate [return] Schools?" Journal of Negro Education Volume IV No. 3, July, 1935. pp. 328-329

8 ibid. p. 333 [return]

9 ibid. p. 335 [return]

10 Monroe Work, Negro Yearbook: An Annual Encyclopedia [return] of the Negro 1931-1932. Negro Yearbook Publishing Company. Tuskegee Institute Alabama, 1931. pp. 204, 205, 206.

Return to Contents

The spirit of Black Wall Street was shown in the foundation of our ancestors of Tulsa Oklahoma using their own consumer spending power and talents to create a self contained successful Black community with hundreds of Black owned and operated businesses within 35 city blocks. In that historic spirit. | Facebook: BlackWallStreetUSA