Lorenzo Greene, a civil rights activist, was born in Connecticut in 1899. After graduating from high school, he entered Howard University with the intention to earn a degree in medicine. “There, however, he came under the influence of three able African American historians and decided to make history his life’s work.”
In particular, meeting Carter G. Woodson changed Greene’s life. Born in West Virginia in 1875 to former slaves, Woodson worked as a coal miner and in other positions to pay for his education. He earned a B.A. from Berea College in Kentucky, a M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1912. An author, historian, and activist, Woodson was the first scholar to seriously examine Black history and to bring it to popular attention.
In 1930, Lorenzo Greene traveled through Houston and other southern cities with Woodson. Their trip had a dual purpose. They hoped to sell books promoting African-American history for Dr. Woodson’s Associated Publishers. They also collected additional information on the anthropological history of African Americans. Throughout his travels, Greene networked with old classmates from Howard University. As he traveled he wrote in a journal about his observations about the racial conditions of the various communities. These observations formed the basis for a posthumously published book, Selling Black History for Carter G. Woodson: A Diary, 1930-1933.
Dr. Greene later earned his doctorate from Columbia University in 1942, and became a leading scholar on the history of blacks in America. He also helped desegregate hotels in Jefferson City and St. Louis and was appointed to the National Commission in Housing by President Hoover and various national committees in subsequent years by President Eisenhower and Johnson. Dr. Greene became a professor at Lincoln University.
Dr. Greene died in 1988. Dr. Woodson died in 1950.
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