George Washington Woodbey was born into slavery in Johnson County Tennessee, on 5 October 1854. There is little record of his early years.
After the Civil War, he emigrated to Emporia, Kansas and then to Omaha, Nebraska, where he was ordained a Baptist minister in 1874. Initially a Republican, he became interested social reform and joined the Prohibition Party. He was active there only for a few years before trying the Democrat Party, then moving to the Socialist Party. It was as a Socialist that he exerted the most influence.
Woodbey was the Prohibition candidate for Nebraska Lt. Governor in 1890 and for Congress in 1894.
His first wife, Anna, was also a Prohibitionist. When she ran for Nebraska State University Regent in 1895, she was the first Negro woman nominated for state-level office by any party.
G.W. Woodbey was recognized as one of the great socialist orators of the time. In 1902, he moved to San Diego, where he was pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He believed that the socialist message of helping the poor was consistent with his Christian beliefs.
He died in San Diego on 27 August 1937.
- Data from Wikipedia, where there is a much longer biography dwelling on his Socialist Party work. Thanks to Adam Seaman for locating this.