About the Woodson Lyceum

Announcing an Inspiring, Rewarding Opportunity

The Carter G. Woodson 2020 Black History Essay Competition for Students in Grades 10-12 and at Marshall University

Sponsor: Omega Psi Phi, Marshall University

Cosponsor: The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum, Marshall University


Corey Cunningham, cunningha189.live.marshall.edu

or Professor Burnis Morris, morrisb@marshall.edu.


There are four separate divisions for the competition based on three high school levels — for students in grades 10, 11 and 12 — and one level for all Marshall University students.


$100 to each winner in grades 10, 11 and 12; $200 to the Marshall University winner


By 5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 27, 2020


The 2020 National Black History theme is "African Americans and the Vote." Students should address some aspect of this theme. For background on theme and information about Dr. Woodson, a former Huntington educator and Father of Black History, please visit: https://asalh.org/black-history-themes/


Essays will be judged on

  • The extent to which the essay effectively explores and expresses understanding of the 2020 Black History theme.
  • Organization of the essay, including arguments and conclusion.
  • Correct use of grammar and accurate spelling and punctuation.

High school students should write at least 600 words. Marshall students should write at least 750 words.


Please note the following requirements:

  1. The student’s name and grade level should be typed on the top left of the page (line 1). Marshall students should state their names, year in school and major on the top line.
  2. On line 2, type the essay’s title — "African Americans and the Vote" — flush left or centered. Begin the composition on line 3, flush left. Separate paragraphs with one line spaces.
  3. Page setup should be 1-inch margins, and text should be double-spaced using 12-point font in Times New Roman. Essays should be submitted only in Microsoft Word.
  4. Create a name for the Word doc to be attached in this style: Your Lastname_BlackHistoryEssay_2020 (Example: Morris_BlackHistoryEssay_2020).


Scan the application/consent form on page 2 and email it with the essay as separate attachments to Professor Burnis Morris, The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum: morrisb@marshall.edu. Students may also print the form and essay and mail them to Professor Burnis Morris, The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum, SOJMC, 1 John Drive, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25755. Contact us if you prefer to hand deliver the printed documents. However, the deadline for entries to reach us remains unchanged.

Deadline by 5 p.m., Jan. 27, 2020



Dr. Carter G. Woodson is considered the Father of Black History. He received his high school diploma from Frederick Douglass High School in Huntington, West Virginia, in 1896, and returned four years later as principal. A statue of Dr. Woodson is located at 820 Hall Greer Blvd., in Huntington.

Other Important Information

  • Winners must complete paperwork for payments of the awards.
  • Winners (including parents/guardians of minors) grant permission for use of the winning essays in print and online in various promotions.
  • Winners are expected to attend the awards dinner at Marshall in February.

Application and Consent Form to Be Submitted with Essay

Complete the above form and scan and attach it with the essay. Students also may print the form and mail the typed essay. Email: morrisb@marshall.edu. Or US mail: Professor Burnis Morris, The Carter G. Woodson Lyceum, SOJMC, 1 John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755



The Lyceum is named in honor of Woodson (1875-1950), one of the leading educators of the 20th century, a former West Virginia coal miner and a former resident of Huntington, where he graduated from high school in 1896 and served as the school’s principal from 1900 to 1903. Woodson was the second African American student to receive a Ph.D. in history at Harvard and the first person whose parents were former slaves to earn a doctorate in history from any institution. The lyceum’s name also is inspired by Aristotle’s lyceum, a school founded in 335 B.C. as a place for thinking and learning.


At Marshall, The Lyceum will reflect influences of Woodson and Aristotle – while addressing critical issues involving education, freedom of expression and race/ethnicity. The lyceum will support scholarships for minorities and disadvantaged students and encourage full participation of all groups and individuals seeking the American dream.


This website is supported as part of a 2016 grant from West Virginia Humanities Council to create a summer institute on black history instruction. The site extends the reach of the June 2017 institute to many students and teachers across the country who could not attend in person.