To kick off Black History Month, today’s Google Doodle celebrates Carter G. Woodson, the great African American scholar who is considered to be the “Father of Black History.”
Woodson was the son of freed slaves, born in the aftermath of the Civil War, and worked on the family farm, working as a miner to help support the family, and attending high school when his work allowed. He officially entered high school at 20 years old, and received his diploma in just two years.
He then started to teach, eventually becoming principal of his high school. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College, Kentucky, studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and received his M.A. from the University of Chicago. He then went on to study history at Harvard, and when he earned a PhD, he became the second African American to win a doctorate (the other being W.E.B. DuBois).
He went on to serve as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he and his colleague Alexander L. Jackson published The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, a pivotal work addressing African-American history. He would go on to write over a dozen more books on black subjects, found the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and produce The Journal of Negro History—all of which culminated in Woodson fighting for the Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., the forerunner to Black History Month.
There’s now a museum dedicated to Woodson’s work in St. Petersburg, Florida, and of course Black History Month is a tribute to his hard work and perseverance.