The museum is named after Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to receive a PhD from Harvard. Woodson wrote many articles and books, and even established Associated Publishers to provide more opportunity for African American scholars. He also started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Woodson is best known for creating African American History Month.
Over the past few years, there has been growing uncertainty regarding the future of this museum. In addition to concerns about funding, the museum faces the possibility that the St. Housing Authority, the building owner, might sell the building. In 2014, St. Petersburg College tried to take control of the museum without informing board members, which had then placed it in a limbo state, despite the college taking back its offer. Early 2015, the city of St. Petersburg announced plans to purchase and reopen the museum.