G. Woodson was an African-American writer and historian known as the
“Father of Black History Month.” He penned the influential book The
Mis-Education of the Negro.
G. Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia. One of the first
African Americans to receive a doctorate from Harvard, Woodson dedicated
his career to the field of African-American history and lobbied
extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide
institution. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933
book The Mis-Education of the Negro. He died in Washingtong, D.C., in 1950.
Godwin Woodson was born on December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia,
to Anna Eliza and James Woodson. The first son of nine children, the
young Woodson worked as a sharecropper and a miner to help his family.
He began high school in his late teens and proved to be an excellent
student, completing a four-year course of study in less than two years.
attending Berea College in Kentucky, Woodson worked for the U.S.
government as an education superintendent in the Philippines and
undertook more travels before returning to the U.S. Woodson then earned
his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Chicago and went on
to receive a doctorate from Harvard University in 1912—becoming the
second African American to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious
institution, after W.E.B. Du Bois. After finishing his education,
Woodson dedicated himself to the field of African-American history,
working to make sure that the subject was taught in schools and studied
by scholars. For his efforts, Woodson is often called the “Father of
Writing ‘Mis-Education of the Negro’
1915, Carter G. Woodson helped found the Association for the Study of
Negro Life and History (which later became the Association for the Study
of Afro-American Life and History), which had the goal of placing
African-American historical contributions front and center. The next
year he established the Journal of Negro History, a scholarly publication.
also formed the African-American-owned Associated Publishers Press in
1921 and would go on to write more than a dozen books over the years,
including A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Negro in Our History (1922) and Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). Mis-Education—with
its focus on the Western indoctrination system and African-American
self-empowerment—is a particularly noted work and has become regularly
course adopted by college institutions.
In addition to his
writing pursuits, Woodson also worked in a number of educational
positions, serving as a principal for Washington, D.C.’s Armstrong
Manual Training School before working as a college dean at Howard
University and the West Virginia Collegiate Institute.
Creating Black History Month
lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a special program
to encourage the study of African-American history, which began in
February 1926 with Negro History Week. The program was later expanded
and renamed Black History Month. (Woodson had chosen February for the
initial weeklong celebration to honor the birth months of abolitionist
Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.)
To help teachers with African-American studies, Woodson later created the Negro History Bulletin in 1937 and also penned literature for elementary and secondary school students.
died on April 3, 1950, a respected and honored figure who received
accolades for his vision. His legacy continues on, with Black History
Month being a national cultural force recognized by a variety of media
formats, organizations and educational institutions.