Black History Month is here and black people across America are celebrating their heritage, though this annual occurrence has proven to still be worthy of debate, as some African Americans have expressed their annoyance at being given a specific slot of time in which they’re supposed to observe the history of blacks in America.
Black History Month came into being thanks in part to a black man named Carter G. Woodson, who as a young adult in the 1910s became frustrated at the lack of African American history being taught in America’s classrooms. This frustration planted the seeds from which Black History Month grew and rooted itself into a monthly national observance.
Woodson believed Black History Month was important because “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”
Black History Month wasn’t always a month. It started as “Negro History Week” in 1926 and took place during February’s second week. It didn’t become a month-long tradition until America was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially made “Negro History Week” into “Black History Month.”
The reasons Black History Month has become a source of controversy are varied. There are a couple of famous black people who’ve not been afraid to share their opinion about why they don’t like it.
Actor Morgan Freeman is one of these people, as he told journalist Mike Wallace during a 60 Minutes interview in 2005 that he thinks Black History Month is “ridiculous.”
“You’re going to relegate my history to a month? When is White History Month?” Morgan asked.
“I’m Jewish,” Wallace replied.
“Is there a Jewish History Month?”
“Do you want one?”
“I don’t either,” Freeman said. “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
Mike Wallace then asks what the answer to racism is, to which Freeman answers, “stop talking about it,” then emphasizes by saying, “I’m going to stop calling you a ‘white man,’ and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a ‘black man.’”
Freeman has also been questioned about his thoughts on how inequality relates to racism in America.
When the accomplished actor was interviewed by CNN’s Don Lemon in 2014 for his show Through the Wormhole, it was revealed that Freeman does not believe the unfairness of wealth distribution in America is due to racism, citing himself and Lemon as proof of this claim. According to Morgan, everybody is given the same opportunities to succeed in life in the U.S., and anyone who says differently is just making excuses.
How many black people agree with Morgan Freeman’s outlook on Black History Month? How many agree with his solution to ending racism in America?
Freeman’s viewpoint of Black History Month and equal opportunity in America runs counter to how some, like members of the Black Lives Matter movement for instance, feel about their home country, and Morgan is not the only African American to express these controversial ideas.
Actress Stacey Dash, who is most known for her role in the 1990s hit movie Clueless, responded to the “Oscars so white” controversy prior to the 2016 Academy Awards by saying she didn’t think there was any reason for Black History Month to exist in modern-day America.
Stacey’s reasoning for this was that every citizen is equal in the eyes of the United States government, and therefore Black History Month is a contradiction to equality. Dash also said there should not be a Black Entertainment Television (BET) channel or BET awards show because it also goes against the premise of an equality-driven society. She asserts that if a channel like BET can exist, a WET, or White Entertainment Television channel should also be able to exist, but if someone proposed such a thing, “we would be up in arms,” says Dash.
Black History Month was formed to remind Americans that black people are a part of America and as such they’re also a part of the history of the land. Their history is distinct from white history, but it’s also distinct from the histories of other American races. In light of this, should, as Stacey Dash believes, there also be a month nationally designated for all Americans of non-African descent? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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