Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Carter G. Woodson In Google Doodle


Google Doodle With Carter G. Woodson

Do you look at the Google Doodles? I often do. I love to discover people or events that I did not know at all. Today was one! Carter G. Woodson, honored in today’s Google Doodle on the first day of Black History Month, is frequently called the Father of Black History.

Carter G. Woodson, from Wikipedia, "father of Black History"

Carter G. Woodson, from Wikipedia, “father of Black History”

“Carter Godwin Woodson was born in 1875 to former slaves and, as the second African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, become one of the first scholars of African-American history. Woodson died in 1950,” an article in Time online says.

He missed a lot of school as a child because he had to work to help out with family finances. He finally entered high school at age 20. Then he finished in two years. He taught, then continued his education. He graduated from Berea College in Kentucky, got a Master’s at the University of Chicago, and his doctorate of history from Harvard in 1912.

Sherice Torres is Director of Brand Marketing at Google. Woodson was committed to seeing African-American History taught in schools and studied by scholars, Torres explained in a post about the Google Doodle.

Like illustrator Shannon Wright who designed the Doodle, Torres is a member of the Black Googlers Network. She said that Woodson served as her inspiration when she wanted to attend Harvard and was discouraged by people around her.

Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” in 1926. He chose the 2nd week in February which included the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Many decades later President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial in 1976.

Colonialism in a Another Light

In the class I’m teaching at Fairfield Connecticut’s Bigelow Center for Senior Activities, I talk a little about British colonialism and how it affected Nigerian customs. It changed some, abolished others, but built on a few.

The section I’m editing in my second book is about the Cub Scouts. When my husband was in his final years of primary school he joined a Cub pack. It was one of his favorite childhood experiences.

This British import was easily adapted as it built on many African customs. “The concepts of obedience, earning rewards, sharing common interests, and belonging to a group with children of one’s own age grade, were familiar.” (The quote is from Paddock A. (2015) “A World of Good to Our Boys”: Boy Scouts in Southern Nigeria, 1934–1951. In: Aderinto S. (eds) Children and Childhood in Colonial Nigerian Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, New York)

The British colonial masters wiped out some Igbo practices. Killing twins and taking slaves were two Igbo traditions that the British halted. I doubt there is any dispute about the wisdom of ending these.

But in the end the British departed, leaving behind a few of their own customs, like the wigs worn by judges in Nigeria.

Dunbar-Ortiz authored An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Dunbar-Ortiz authored An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Beacon Broadside, a project of Beacon Press, wrote that Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz was awarded the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize! “With this prize, the Lannan Foundation has honored her activism with global indigenous people’s movement for national sovereignty, international recognition, environmental rights, social movements for women’s equality, and the rights of oppressed nations in Central America,” the article said.

I Googled her and found an amazing list of books she has written.

Dunbar-Ortiz has been a scholar about another kind of colonialism. Her award-winning book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, was published by Beacon Press. In it and other writing, she helped develop and explain the theory of “settler-colonialism.”

The author and scholar Dunbar-Ortiz

The author and scholar Dunbar-Ortiz

In an interview, she was asked about “settler-colonialism” and why it is important today.

What is Settler-Colonialism?

She said, “It’s necessary to understand settler-colonialism to comprehend the US settler descendants’ resentment of immigrants, criminalization of Black men, and a renewed surge to privatize public lands.” She reminds us that, “inscribed in the original US constitution, only Europeans were allowed to enter, and only white men who owned property (land or enslaved Africans) could be citizens of the United States.”

“White nationalism is original settler nationalism,” she says. “But, the fact is that the content of US consensus nationalism that is woven into the fabric of the culture and institutions is based in celebrating the triumph of settler-colonialism.”

Not easy to understand or accept what she says, I find. But certainly worthy of more thought.

Like Carter Woodson in the Google Doodle, she was also new to me. Have you heard of her? Read her works?

A palm wine tapper in the Gambia.

A palm wine tapper in the Gambia.

The Palm Wine Tapper

Next week in my class I’ll talk about palm wine, kola nuts, and traditional and modern religious life among the Igbo people. I was searching Google for pictures of palm wine tappers, and found this charming article.

It’s from The New York Times in 1976! I will read parts of it to the class next Tuesday. And I did find some great pictures.

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. Thanks for this post. I never even heard of Google Doodles, nor about Carter Woodson. Will check it out!

    • So much to learn! I use Google as my search engine, so I almost always see the Doodle. Some days there is no Doodle, just the Google logo. Even when there is, I don’t always check what they are. Sometimes it depends on what I’m procrastinating about!

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