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25 Carter G. Woodson Quotes About the Importance of Knowing Black History

These Carter G. Woodson quotes will remind you how important it is to know black history.

Carter G. Woodson was an American historian, journalist, author, and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

He believed strongly that African-Americans should know their history in order to participate intelligently in current affairs.

Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African-American history and spent the majority of his life educating people on the subject.

In the 1920s he founded “Negro History Week” which would eventually evolve into Black History Month.

Woodson is known as the “father of black history.”

Also, check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily wisdom. 

See the rest of our quote database for even more inspirational ideas and thoughts.

Carter G. Woodson quotes on why it is important to know your history

1. “We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history.” — Carter G. Woodson

2. “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world, void of national bias, race, hate, and religious prejudice.” — Carter G. Woodson

3. “We have a wonderful history behind us. … If you are unable to demonstrate to the world that you have this record, the world will say to you, ‘You are not worthy to enjoy the blessings of democracy or anything else’.” — Carter G. Woodson

4. “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” — Carter G. Woodson

5. “History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.” — Carter G. Woodson

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6. “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.” — Carter G. Woodson

7. “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” — Carter G. Woodson

8. “The bondage of the Negro brought captive from Africa is one of the greatest dramas in history, and the writer who merely sees in that ordeal something to approve or condemn fails to understand the evolution of the human race.” — Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson quotes on oppression

9. “If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race. Such an effort would upset the program of the oppressor in Africa and America. Play up before the Negro, then, his crimes and shortcomings. Let him learn to admire the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin, and the Teuton. Lead the Negro to detest the man of African blood–to hate himself.” — Carter G. Woodson

10. “The large majority of the Negroes who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people.” — Carter G. Woodson

11. “The thought of the inferiority of the Negro is drilled into him in almost every class he enters and in almost every book he studies.” — Carter G. Woodson

12. “The oppressor has always indoctrinated the weak with his interpretation of the crimes of the strong.” — Carter G. Woodson

13. “As another has well said, to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching.” — Carter G. Woodson

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14. “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.” — Carter G. Woodson

15. “Even schools for Negroes, then, are places where they must be convinced of their inferiority.” — Carter G. Woodson

16. “Negroes who have been so long inconvenienced and denied opportunities for development are naturally afraid of anything that sounds like discrimination.” — Carter G. Woodson

17. “The so-called modern education, with all its defects, however, does others so much more good than it does the Negro, because it has been worked out in conformity to the needs of those who have enslaved and oppressed weaker peoples.” — Carter G. Woodson

18. “In schools of theology Negroes are taught the interpretation of the Bible worked out by those who have justified segregation and winked at the economic debasement of the Negro at times almost to the point of starvation.” — Carter G. Woodson

19. “The same educational process which inspires and stimulates the oppressor with the thought that he is everything and has accomplished everything worthwhile depresses and crushes at the same time the spark of genius in the Negro by making him feel that his race does not amount to much and never will measure up to the standards of other peoples.” — Carter G. Woodson

20. “The present system under the control of the whites trains the Negro to be white and at the same time convinces him of the impropriety or the impossibility of his becoming white.” — Carter G. Woodson

21. “Negro banks, as a rule, have failed because the people, taught that their own pioneers in business cannot function in this sphere, withdrew their deposits.” — Carter G. Woodson

22. “Why not exploit, enslave, or exterminate a class that everybody is taught to regard as inferior?” — Carter G. Woodson

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Carter G. Woodson quotes about the fight for equality

23. “It may be well to repeat here the saying that old men talk of what they have done, young men of what they are doing, and fools of what they expect to do. The Negro race has a rather large share of the last-mentioned class.” — Carter G. Woodson

24. “There should be no indulgence in undue eulogy of the Negro.” — Carter G. Woodson

25. “The case of the Negro is well taken care of when it is shown how he has far influenced the development of civilization.” — Carter G. Woodson

How much do you know about black history?

Carter G. Woodson was born in Virginia to parents who were former slaves.

He didn’t have much opportunity for education as a child because his parents needed his help on their farm and couldn’t spare him to go to school.

Despite this, Woodson was determined to educate himself.

He was self-taught in most school subjects and, at the age of 20, in 1895, he enrolled at Douglas High School and received his diploma within two years.

Education would become Woodson’s main focus in life.

He would go on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University and would later become the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University.

In his studies, Woodson found that African American history was often misrepresented, or sometimes, non-existent in the history books.

Woodson believed that knowing black history was important for the progression of America and in the fight for equality, and so he spent the majority of his life studying and teaching black history.

Did you learn anything from these Carter G. Woodson quotes and sayings?

Which quote was your favorite?

Let us know in the comments below.

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
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