Who is Dr Carter G. Woodson, the father of black history?

Friday, 05 February 2021
Carter G. Woodson Carter G. Woodson

Black History Month has been the result of long-standing efforts and achievements of some notable Black American figures. One of these figures is Carter Godwin Woodson, an African American historian well known as the father of black history.

Carter Godwin Woodson is an outstanding historian and author born on December 19, 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. He grew up duringthe reconstruction era in the late 19thcentury, a period right after President Abraham Lincoln proclaiming all enslaved black people free, also known as emancipation proclamation. Woodson descended from enslaved parentage; both his grandfather and father were enslaved by the same owner in Buckingham Country. In his early life, Woodson had already been quite a special little boy as he was too obedient to his father who strongly taught him about sense of pride, hope, integrity, resilience and the importance of education. As a result, he exactly knew how he could excel himself through self-teaching. He used the bible and other learning tools and means to learn to read and write. As a teenager, he had first to work on farms to help his family; and when reaching the age of 20 he joined his brothers in coal miners in West Virginia. As from this time, he started to save money to enroll for a formal education at Frederick Douglass High School Huntington, one of the few black high school institutions at that time and the only one in West Virginia. After graduating he went to Berea College in Kentucky where he got a Bachelor degree in Literature. He then continued his studies at the University of Chicago where he earned his second bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in 1908. In 1912, he received his Ph. D. in History at Harvard University, where he became the second African American of enslaved parentage to earn a Ph.D. degree from one of the most respected US Universities.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Black History month

While studying at Berea College, Dr. Woodson had already become an educator, and had taught history at some high schools. These included a high school in Winona, West Virginia and Frederick Douglass High School later on, where he became the principal. His study choice had appeared an evidence for the move he was going to undertake; as if it was already his predilection domain to stand out for Black people lives and change forever the flow of story. In fact, after graduating in history at Harvard, he began to specialize in the field of black history by writing his first book associated with the topic. Shortly after his work came out in 1915, he took the initiative to found an organization aiming at studying and promoting the field of black American history and culture as well as their contributions in the formation of America. The organization he founded with four other men of colour is called Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Dr Woodson had been so optimistic in spreading Black influence through his work and his move as a black leader, driving him to create and sponsor the “Negro History Week” which is today’s Black History Month. Black history month has been officially recognized as a monthly annual celebration in the United States by the late 1960s.

Sources: ThoughtCo / National Park Service (nps.gov)


Read 159 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 February 2021 20:19
Login to post comments

An initiative by

Initiate by


Funding provided by

Supported by


AmCham sponsors



This website was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.