Carter G. Woodson is widely recognized as the father of African American history. Born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson was the son of former slaves. Despite facing poverty and discrimination, he managed to receive a formal education and eventually earned his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University.
Woodson was deeply interested in the history and culture of African Americans, who had been largely excluded from mainstream historical narratives. He believed that studying this history was crucial for combating racism and building a sense of pride and identity among Black people.
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), which aimed to promote research into Black history and celebrate the accomplishments of Black people. In 1926, he launched “Negro History Week,” which would later evolve into Black History Month.
Woodson wrote extensively about African American history, publishing numerous articles and books on topics ranging from slavery to contemporary issues facing Black Americans. His most famous work is likely “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” which critiques the educational system for failing to teach Black children about their own history.
In addition to his scholarly work, Woodson also played an important role in promoting African American culture through organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and his own publishing company, Associated Publishers.
Despite facing opposition from some white scholars who dismissed his work as “biased” or “unscientific,” Woodson’s contributions to the field of African American history were significant. Today, his legacy lives on through organizations like ASALH and through ongoing efforts to incorporate more diverse perspectives into historical research.
Thanks to Carter G. Woodson’s pioneering efforts, today we have a much richer understanding of African American history than we did just a few decades ago. His work continues to inspire new generations of scholars and activists to study, celebrate, and preserve the stories of Black Americans.