Why Carter G. Woodson Is the ‘Father of Black History’





Updated: February 1, 2018 11:24 AM ET

February is Black History Month, and Google is kicking it off by honoring Carter G. Woodson, frequently touted as the “Father of Black History,” with a Google Doodle.

Carter Godwin Woodson was born in 1875 to former slaves and, as the second African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, become one of the first scholars of African-American history. Woodson died in 1950.

Illustrator Shannon Wright designed the Google Doodle in conjunction with the Black Googlers network.

“Woodson was committed to bringing African-American history front and center and ensuring it was taught in schools and studied by other scholars,” Sherice Torres, Director of Brand Marketing at Google and member of the network, explained in a post about the Google Doodle. Torres explained that Woodson served as her inspiration when she said she wanted to attend Harvard and was discouraged by people around her.

Portrait of American historian and educator Carter Godwin Woodson (1875 - 1950), 1910s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Portrait of American historian and educator Carter Godwin Woodson (1875 – 1950), 1910s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive—Getty Images

Here’s What Else You Should Know About Carter Woodson:

  • Woodson was unable to attend school for much of his childhood because he had to help his parents financially. He ended up entering high school at the age of 20, and received his diploma in two years.
  • After high school,Woodson taught in West Virginia before earning his undergraduate degree at Berea College. He received a masters degree from the University of Chicago in 1908, and a doctorate of History from Harvard in 1912.
  • In between teaching and receiving his masters and doctorate, Woodson was a school supervisor in the Philippines.
  • Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” which preceded Black History Month.


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