Mis-Education of the Negro
By Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson
There were many key points that provoked deep thought. I have compiled six quotes from this book (though admittedly there could be many more) that particularly struck me the most:
First – “They must be taught to think and develop something for themselves. It is most pathetic to see Negroes begging others for a chance as we have been doing recently…The Negro as a slave developed this fatal sort of dependency; and, restricted mainly to menial service and drudgery during nominal freedom, he has not grown out of it. Now the Negro is facing the ordeal of either learning to do for self or to die out gradually in the bread line in the ghetto.” [1. Chapter 15 – Vocational Guidance – Pg. 108]
Second – “If the Negroes in this country are to escape starvation and rise out of poverty unto comfort and ease, they must change their way of thinking and living.” [2. Chapter 15 – ibid – Pg. 111]
Third – “In large cities like Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago they earn millions and millions every year and throw these vast sums immediately away for trifles which undermine their health, vitiate their morals, and contribute to the under doing of generations of Negroes unborn.” [3. Chapter 15 – ibid – Pg. 112]
Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson published this book in 1933. Strikingly 75 years after this book was published, the black community is still faced with many of the very same challenges. But what’s even more troubling is that many of this challenges are worse.
Admittedly for me I am not surprised. I learned nothing new about the black community in this book. There are 18 chapters in this book and each one of those chapters has a narrative that parallels the same struggles that you find in the 21st century.
With that said, this book did not really exposed any new ideas or information that comes to mind. It rather parrots a familiar narrative, a narrative that seems to have no reconciliation. It seems to foster a belief one that seems apparent that there is no remedy for these deeply rooted issues within the black race.
This is an evaluation based on the fact that this book was written just over 80 years ago (2014) and upon reflecting on history that this book discusses and points out that in the 21st century these issues are still at the very core of the dysfunction and stagnation of the black race in the 21st century.
There is an underlying message whether it is conscious or subconscious on the part of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and that message is this: with all that is said in this book concerning black Americans and their mis-education one thing I did seem to pick up on was a message of doing for self.
A message that recognized the necessity of doing for self and not a continual assault on external forces such as the “white man”etc. I feel that this is due to a difference in the times and attitudes of the day. In the 21st century the message would be “it’s the white mans fault” .
Then there is yet another undertone I felt this book suggests. Are black Americans mis-educated because they are in need of a special education? Are black Americans unable to be educated in mainstream America?
Are black Americans so unique in their struggling ability to learn scholastics that it necessitates the segregation from other races to educate properly according to their own methodologies? Should black Americans have remained segregated by their own choice so as to groom and court their own philosophy concerning a proper social and economic identity before ever considering joining mainstream America?
Nevertheless, we shall never know as we are here in the 21st century in hindsight of the matter.