In the summer of 1930, Lorenzo Johnston Greene, a graduate of Howard University and a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, became a book agent for the man with the undisputed title of "Father of Negro History," Carter G. Woodson. With little more than determination, Greene, along with four Howard University students, traveled throughout the South and Southeast selling books published by Woodson's Associated Publishers. Their dual purpose was to provide needed funds for the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and to promote the study of African American history. Greene returned east by way of Chicago, and, for a time, he settled in Philadelphia, selling books there and in the nearby cities of Delaware and New Jersey. He left Philadelphia in 1931 to conduct a survey in Washington, D.C., of firms employing and not employing black workers. From 1930 until 1933, when Greene began teaching at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, Selling Black History for Carter G. Woodson provides a unique firsthand account of conditions in African American communities during the Great Depression. Greene describes in the diary, often in lyrical terms, the places and people he visited. He provides poignant descriptions of what was happening to black professional and business people, plus working-class people, along with details of high school facilities, churches, black business enterprises, housing, and general conditions in communities. Greene also gives revealing accounts of how the black colleges were faring in 1930.
"The Lorenzo Greene diary is a major contribution to black history scholarship and to American historiography. No serious student of African American history can afford to be without this unique window onto the Black History Movement launched by Carter G. Woodson almost a century ago."—Darlene Clark Hine
Arvarh E. Strickland is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has numerous books to his credit, including his introduction to and edition of Working with Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History: A Diary, 1928-1930 by Lorenzo J. Greene.