If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.
-- Dr. Carter G. Woodson
African American history did not begin when the first enslaved African landed on the shore of America in Jamestown, Va. in 1619. It is far greater than just the story of 400 years of slavery and its impact on the lives of millions of enslaved people who suffered through the brutality and hardship that came along with it. African American history includes the vast cultural influences and countless contributions people of African descent have provided to the United States before, during and after slavery.
Thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves, the United States now recognizes the month of February as African American History Month. Woodson was disturbed by the fact that the achievements of Blacks “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them,” he said. To highlight the contributions of Blacks was not only meant to help Black people strive to improve their condition, but to inform and educate white people, as well. To ignore the achievements of Black people, Woodson believed, encouraged “race prejudice,” which he defined as “merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind."