Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) was an African American historian, author, and educator who played a significant role in promoting the study and recognition of African American history. Born on December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson grew up in poverty and worked as a sharecropper and coal miner to support his family. Despite facing numerous challenges, he pursued education and eventually earned a bachelor's degree from Berea College in Kentucky.
Woodson went on to earn a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago and became the second African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, where he specialized in African American history. Inspired by his own experiences of racial discrimination and a lack of representation in historical narratives, Woodson dedicated his life to researching, preserving, and promoting the achievements and contributions of African Americans.
In 1915, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) and started the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History). Through these platforms, he aimed to provide a space for scholars and researchers to explore African American history and challenge the prevailing narratives that marginalized black achievements.
Woodson strongly believed in the power of education and introduced the idea of "Negro History Week" in 1926, which later evolved into Black History Month. He advocated for the inclusion of African American history in school curricula and developed teaching materials to facilitate the learning of this subject. He also wrote numerous books, including his seminal work "The Mis-Education of the Negro," which critically examined the impact of educational systems on the minds of African Americans.
Woodson's contributions and efforts helped lay the foundation for the recognition of African American history as an integral part of American history. His work challenged the prevailing stereotypes and prejudices of the time, paving the way for a more inclusive understanding of the nation's past.