Carter G. Woodson
(December 19, 1875 - April 3, 1950)
Carter G. Woodson was the son of former slaves James and Eliza Riddle Woodson. His father had helped the Union soldiers during the Civil War, and afterwards he moved his family to West Virginia where a high school for blacks was being built. Coming from a large, poor family, Carter could not regularly attend school, but through self-instruction he was able to master the fundamentals of common school subjects by the time he was 17.
In 1895, at the age of 20, Woodson entered Douglass High School where he received his diploma in less than two years. From 1897 to 1900, he began teaching in Fayette County, and he later became the principal of his own alma mater. Woodson finally received his bachelor's degree from Berea College in Kentucky. From 1903 to 1907 he was a school supervisor in the Philippines. He then attended the University of Chicago where he received his master's in 1908, and in 1912, he received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.
In 1915, Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland co-founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The organization was the platform that launched Woodson's mission to raise awareness and recognize the importance of Black history. He believed that publishing scientific history about the black race would produce facts that would prove to the world that Africa and its people had played a crucial role in the development of civilization. Thus he established a scholarly journal, The Journal of Negro History, a year after he formed the ASNLH.
Seeing the need to spread the news about Black history to the general public as well as scholars, Woodson and the ASNLH pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week" in 1926, which has since been extended to the entire month of February. Even with the monumental duties connected with the association, Woodson still found time to write extensive and scholarly works such as "The History of the Negro Church" (1922), "The Mis-Education of the Negro" (1933) and many other books that continue to have wide readership today. Woodson's other far-reaching activities included the organization in 1920 of the Associated Publishers, the oldest African American publishing company in the United States.
Woodson is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland-Silver Hill, Md. His Washington, D.C., home has been preserved as the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site.