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Carter G. Woodson - History, the Black Press, and Public Relations

Carter G. Woodson

History, the Black Press, and Public Relations

By Burnis R. Morris
Series: Race, Rhetoric, and Media Series

Paperback : 9781496820136, 202 pages, 10 b&w illustrations, September 2018
Hardcover : 9781496814074, 202 pages, 10 b&w illustrations, September 2017

A recognition of how the Father of Black History harnessed publicity power


This study reveals how Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) used the black press and modern public-relations techniques to popularize black history during the first half of the twentieth century. Often overlooked is Woodson’s skillful use of newspapers in developing and executing a public-education campaign built on truth, accuracy, and fairness. Burnis R. Morris explains how Woodson attracted mostly favorable news coverage for his history movement due to his deep understanding of the newspapers’ business and editorial models as well as his public-relations skills.

Woodson’s publicity tactics, combined with access to the audiences granted by the press, enabled him to drive the black history movement—particularly observance of Negro History Week and fundraising activities. This rarely explored side of Woodson, who was often called the “Father of Black History,” reintroduces Woodson’s lost image as a leading cultural icon who used his celebrity in multiple roles as an opinion journalist, newsmaker, and publicist of black history.


"Morris's work represents a breakthrough in taking Carter G. Woodson seriously as a personality and an institution builder. Most notably we learn how he used the press to transform the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History into the force that reshaped the celebration of Negro History, turning it into the most vibrant celebration of public history in America. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand Woodson."

- Daryl Michael Scott, professor of history, Howard University, and editor of Carter G. Woodson's Appeal

"Through this book, Morris recuperates Woodson’s rightful place in US journalism history and the field of public relations. . . . Morris offers a fresh take on Woodson’s life and activism, unearthing his role as a skilled publicist promoting and popularizing Black history through the press."

- Christian Walkes, Harvard University, The Journal of African American History