Samina Ali: Black History Month ... Why It's Important to Preserve

Roundup: Talking About History




I wanted to share with you on this article I read on msnbc.msn.com. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Morgan Freeman was asked how he felt about Black History Month. He stated that he doesn't want a Black History Month because Black History is American History. I personally don't agree and I'm disturbed he made the comment. I know it's been debated before and the article mentions this, but I guess since Morgan Freeman said it - people are agreeing with him. He covers all the bases or categories the public needs to assume there's truth to his statement, he's an affluent black oscar winning actor, he's older - he's been there, done that and experienced things not many others have experienced, so people may think he's expert on the subject. White people and black people love him equally. There was also a vote on msnbc.msn.com on whether Black History Month has outlived its usefulness or if it was still a necessary way to remind people of black progress. Almost 70% of voters thought Black History Month has outlived its usefulness. Why? Because Morgan Freeman said so - are people that stupid? Well maybe some are, but 70%? I know it's just a quick on-line vote that doesn't analyze background data to give you an idea of who this 70% represents. That's still a huge scary number. What are these people thinking, "OK, we get it - black people have made progress - now let's get rid of Black History Month."

I agree that Black History is American History, but I don't think Black History hasn't been fully integrated into American History. Even if it was, I still think it's an important tradition. You can't discuss eliminating Blac k History Month without having a discussion on what Black History Month means. Does it mean nothing? Because if it does then lets eliminate it. But that's not the case. It's a celebration of black achievement, a reminder of the civil rights movement, slavery, key black leaders and black professionals that have paved the way for all of us, a way to teach young people more about black history and what it means to be black in America. For anyone to consider eliminating it is forgetting or erasing the past.

Black History is American History (so we don't need Black History Month) is just a weak argument. I didn't see the whole Freeman interview so maybe he had something more substantial to say than that.

Do the same people that think Black History Month is obsolete think Women's History Month is also obsolete? If someone wants to argue that Black History is American History, I think Women's History is also American History so let's get rid of that too! It doesn't make sense to me at all.

I don't know how much black history is incorporated into the American history being taught at elementary, junior high or high schools today but in my experience it wasn't much just a section or two on slavery and the civil rights movement. I hope that's changed. I was shocked over how much black history I didn't know and had to learn in college taking your class and Dr. Chapman's classes. I don't think we've reached this plateau where we no longer need Black History Month because it's all been incorporated into American History. There's so much more I could say or you could say on why Black History Month is necessary. Morgan Freeman certainly has a right to voice his opinion, and he can't be the first black man to make this type of statement, but maybe he should stick to making excellent films and leave the discussion of eliminating great American traditions like Black History Month to people who are more qualified to participate in such discussions.

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