Dr. Carter G. Woodson was born in New Canton, Va. At age 17, he followed his brother, Robert, to Huntington hoping to attend Douglass High School. He was forced to work in the coal mines near the New River in Southern West Virginia, leaving little time for an education. However, he eventually enrolled at Douglass High School full-time and received his diploma in 1897.
Dr. Woodson worked for three years as a teacher in Winona, West Virginia, before becoming the principal of Douglass High School. He took classes at Berea College in Kentucky and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in literature in 1903. For the next three years, he served as a school supervisor in the Philippines. He later attended the University of Chicago, where he was awarded a master’s degree in 1908. He was a member of the first Black professional fraternity Sigma Pi Phi and was a member of Omega Psi Phi. He completed his doctorate degree in history at Harvard University, where he was the second African-American to do so. He continued teaching in public schools, ultimately becoming the principal of the Black Armstrong Manual Training School in Washington, D.C. He also taught at Howard University and West Virginia State College.
He devoted his life to researching and writing about the role of African-Americans in American history. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the Journal of Negro History, both of which are still in existence today.
In 1926, Carter pioneered the celebration of ‘Negro History Week’ and, in 1970, the Black United Students and black educators at Kent State University expanded the idea to include the entire month of February. Since 1976, every United States president has designated February as Black History Month.
A memorial statue of Dr. Woodson was dedicated along Hal Greer Boulevard in 1995.
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