Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson photo

Carter G. Woodson is a Top 100 Bestselling Author Making Our List 35 Times

“Only when lions have historians will hunters cease being heroes.” —African Proverb

Carter G. Woodson Carter Godwin Woodson has been called the father of Black History Month. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), the son of former slaves James and Eliza (Riddle) Woodson, was born on a small farm in New Canton, Virginia. From an early age, he possessed an unquenchable thirst for learning. When he could, he attended the local school, and eventually went to Berea College in Kentucky. Ultimately, he obtained a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1907. In 1908 he attended Sorbonne University in Paris where he became fluent in French. He received a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 1912, becoming only the second African-American to earn such a degree. Woodson taught briefly and held educational administrative posts in the Philippines, at Howard University (where he was Dean of the School of Liberal Arts), and West Virginia State College.

Dr. Woodson was a member of the Niagara Movement and a regular columnist for Marcus Garvey’s weekly publication—the Negro World. He was the founder, in Chicago in 1915, of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In the same year, he founded the Journal of Negro History—a publication still in existence. As a contributing writer for The Journal of Negro History, Woodson wrote more than a hundred articles and 125 book reviews.

Carter Godwin Woodson was the founder of Associated publishers, founder and editor of the Negro History Bulletin, and the author of more than thirty books. Probably Woodson’s best-known book is The Mis-Education of the Negro, originally published in 1933 and still relevant today. In the Mis-Education of the Negro Dr. Woodson stated that:

When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder.  He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

In 1926 Woodson initiated the annual February observance of Negro History Week. He chose February for the observance because February twelfth was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February fourteenth was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass. By the 1970s, Negro History Week had expanded to become Black History Month.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson was truly a great man; an intensely dedicated soldier in the cause of African freedom and redemption. We proudly salute and praise him, and as we rapidly approach the year 2000 and the new millennium we dedicate ourselves to extending Black History Month to the entire year and the unending and unceasing celebration, recognition and commemoration of the global history of African people. [1998] Runoko Rashidi. All Rights Reserved.

In 1915, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History to address the lack of information on the accomplishments of Black people. Today the organization is still active and known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). ASALH in cooperation with Black Classic Press are collaborating to create The Woodson Series. The series will include over 125 books and publications. Their plan is to make these titles available as a complete library and encourage readers to enjoy and pass these treasures on to future generations. Five of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s titles shown below, including the 24-time bestseller, Mis-Education of the Negro, are part of the series.

Check out Carter Reads the Newspaper, the first picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson.

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8 Books by Carter G. Woodson