Using PR for the Greater Good: Dr. Carter G. Woodson

February 1, 2020 2:02 am Published by
Known as the “Father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson led the life of a leader. Earning a doctorate from Harvard in 1912, he authored dozens of books. Through language and media, Dr. Woodson employed public relations strategies to persuade Americans of all backgrounds that African American achievements belonged in the halls of our nation’s history.

Dr. Woodson not only disseminated ideas through the written word and public lectures, he relied on another timeless principle for success both in PR and life: He built authentic, mutually beneficial relationships. His columns established him as a thought leader that journalists could tap as a source for their own work.

In 1915, Dr. Woodson founded The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Drawing from ASALH initiatives, Black History Month was formally observed beginning February 1976. Thirty years later in 2006, the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum was established in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Beyond the significance of being an election year, 2020 also marks major milestones for the right to vote in the United States. It has been 150 years since the 15th Amendment provided black men the right to the ballot after the Civil War, and the centennial of the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment.

As such, the ASALH announced the theme for Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote.” Although the fight was not yet won when Dr. Woodson’s life ended in 1950, his institutional and professional legacy carries on.