Carter G. Woodson: Father of Black History

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, distinguished Black author, editor, publisher, and historian (December 1875 - April 1950), believed that Blacks should know their past in order to participate intelligently in the affairs in their country. He strongly believed that Black history - which others have tried so diligently to erase - is a firm foundation for young African Americans to build on in order to become productive citizens of society.

Known as the “Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson holds an outstanding position in early 20th century American history. Woodson authored numerous scholarly books on the positive contributions of Blacks to the development of America. He also published many magazine articles analyzing the contributions and role of African Americans. He reached out to schools and the general public through the establishment of several key organizations and founded Negro History Week (precursor to Black History Month). His message was that Africans should be proud of their heritage and that other Americans should also understand it. father, he later wrote, insisted that “learning to accept insult, to compromise on principle, to mislead your fellow man, or to betray your people, is to lose your soul.”

He received his Bachelor of Literature from Berea College, Kentucky, studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, in 1908 received his M.A. from the U.of Chicago, and in 1912, he received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard. 

He  was born in New Canton, Buckingham County, Virginia, to former slaves Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson. Although his parents could neither read nor write, Carter G. Woodson credits his father for influencing the course of his life. 

His father, he later wrote, insisted that “learning to accept insult, to compromise on principle, to mislead your fellow man, or to betray your people, is to lose your soul.”He received his Bachelor of Literature from Berea College, Kentucky, studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, in 1908 received his M.A. from the U.of Chicago, and in 1912, he received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard.