"Among the vitalizing tools of the radical intelligentsia, of course the most crucial was words"1 by ProQuest

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									                                                     pero gaglo dagbovie michigan state university




“Among the vitalizing tools of
the radical intelligentsia, of
course the most crucial was
words”                         1



Carter G. Woodson’s “The Case of the Negro” (1921)




I
      n an unpublished manuscript completed in 1921, historian Carter G.
      Woodson wrote:

     The whole history of the white race has been cruelty in the extreme, justified
     by its claim to be the sole representative of God in remaking the world and
     shaping the destinies of nations . . . Violating the law is the prerogative of the
     white . . . In spite of these facts as to superior qualities of the Negro, the average
     white man is of the opinion that the Negro has a feeling of inferiority in his
     presence. Nothing can be so far from the truth.”2

Woodson (1875–1950) is most widely recognized in United States—specifically
African American—academic and popular cultures for many pioneering
and enduring accomplishments, including founding the Association for the
Study of African American Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915, The Journal of
Negro History (now Journal of African American History) in 1916, Associated

Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2009, pp. 81–112. issn 1930-1189.
© 2009 Michigan State University Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.                       81
82                                                            Pero Gaglo Dagbovie


Publishers, Inc., in 1921, and The Negro History Bulletin in 1937; authoring
numerous books, journal articles, newspaper columns, and book reviews;
mentoring generations of African American scholars and historians; and
creating “Negro History Week” in 1926 that in the immediate post–Black
Power era developed into what we celebrate today as Black History Month, a
concrete, modern manifestation of the successful, though at times commercial,
popularization of African American history. He was, simply put, a black
history institution builder.3 Woodson’s most famous and widely read book is
The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933), an open and harsh critique of “highly
educated Negroes,” the black middle-class, and black leadership.4 Viewed
within the context of the black intellectual production of the Great Depression
era and black thinkers’ responses to Woodson’s charges, this polemic was in
many regards radical. This diatribe has served as a consciousness-raising
road map for generatio
								
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