February 1, 2018
Celebrating Carter G. Woodson
Today’s Doodle by Virginia-based illustrator Shannon Wright and developed in collaboration with the Black Googlers Network (one of the largest employee resource groups at Google), marks the beginning of Black History Month by celebrating Carter G. Woodson - the man often called the “Father of Black History.” Woodson’s legacy inspired me to become an African American Studies major in college, and I am honored to kick off Google’s celebration this month by highlighting the life of this great American scholar.
Woodson was born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, to former slaves Anne Eliza and James Henry Woodson. His parents never had the opportunity to learn to read and write, but he had an appetite for education from the very beginning. As a young man, he helped support his family through farming and working as a miner, which meant that most of his education came via self-instruction. He eventually entered high school at the age of 20 and earned his diploma in less than two years!
Woodson went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, after which he became the second African-American ever to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. He was also one of the first scholars to focus on the study of African-American history, writing over a dozen books on the topic over the years.
In addition to studying it himself, Woodson was committed to bringing African-American history front and center and ensuring it was taught in schools and studied by other scholars. He devised a program to encourage this study, which began in February of 1926 as a weeklong event. Woodson chose February for this celebration to commemorate the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. This program eventually expanded to become what we now today as Black History Month.
Woodson’s commitment to achieve an education for himself and spread awareness and pride in Black history inspired me and continues to do so in so many ways. As a black woman from an underserved, underperforming public school in Richmond, California, many in my community didn’t expect me to achieve much beyond the four corners of my neighborhood. When I voiced my ambition to go to Harvard, I was told by teachers, guidance counselors, and even some family members that “people like me” didn’t go to schools like that. Fortunately, my parents believed in me and supported ambitions beyond their vision and experience. That support, along with the inspiration of great American leaders like Woodson, gave me the confidence to follow my dreams and achieve more than I’ve ever imagined.
This Black History Month, I encourage others to learn more about the incredible legacy, contribution, and journey of black people in the United States. I also hope they will be inspired by the example of Carter G. Woodson and challenge themselves to push beyond any perceived limitations to achieve a goal they may think is just out of reach.
-Sherice Torres, Director of Brand Marketing at Google & Black Googlers Network member
Throughout the month we'll continue to celebrate Black history across our products. For example, visit Google Arts & Culture to explore more of Carter G. Woodson’s life and legacy as well as the origins of Black History Month.
You can also check out the renewed Google Arts & Culture collection on Black History & Culture.
Early drafts of the Doodle below