10 Facts About The Life of Carter G. Woodson
Learn more about the man responsible for Black History Month
Each February, the nation celebrates Black History Month, but many people don't know much about the man responsible for the creation of Black History Month—Carter G. Woodson. A historian, Woodson felt that the black experience was either misrepresented or ignored in history books. He started Negro History Week to give members of the public the opportunity to learn about the achievements of African Americans and their contributions to the United States. The facts below highlight Woodson’s life and the accomplishments that helped him pave the way for Black History Month.
Carter Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Va., to former slaves.
Woodson completed high school in just two years--quite a feat for a young man with a background in sharecropping and mining, born to parents who could neither read nor write.
Woodson’s education would extend far beyond high school. He attended Berea College and the University of Chicago, ultimately earning bachelor and master’s degrees from the latter.
Woodson has the distinction of being the second black to earn a doctorate from Harvard University. He accomplished this in 1912. W.E.B. Du Bois was the first black to do so.
Woodson co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. The group would play a vital role in the creation of Negro History Week, which later broadened to Black History Month.
Six years later, Woodson launched African American publishing company Associated Publishers Press. He wrote several books, the most famous of which is 1933’s the “Mis-Education of the Negro.”
The historian and activist also worked in academia, including as a dean at Howard University.
Woodson died on April 3, 1950. Each year, an ornament featuring Woodson’s likeness hands on the White House Christmas tree.
Today, Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History.”
Although he fought for the creation of Negro History Week, Woodson hoped for a time when such a week would be unnecessary because the contributions of African-Americans would be widely acknowledged in U.S. society.
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