Black History Month should be celebrated year round

Each year, people around the nation anxiously wait for February to roll around to celebrate the triumphs in black history. For this one month, stores across America advertise Black History Month sales, the History Channel runs dozens of specials about the Civil Rights Movement and teachers gear class discussions toward the topic of significant African-American figures.

Although it is crucial to educate people everywhere about the importance of Black history, we don’t need to designate just one month to acknowledge it anymore. Not only have we separated black history from American history, but this month is often used as an excuse to ignore important Black figures the rest of the year. Separating Black history from American history also discredits the many contributions African Americans have made to our country.

A recent article by Shane Wade in the Commonwealth Times said, “It is nonsense to devote a separate month to a conjoined history. The best method of teaching history is to teach it as a chronological, inclusive story. Not as segmented parts divisible for monthly discussion.”

Slavery and the fight for civil rights are two of the most vital aspects of American history. During these struggles, African Americans contributed greatly to business and the economy. Relegating one month out of the year to acknowledge this is undermines this fact and redivides the nation.

Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian, established Negro History Week in 1926 as a way to bring hope and self-worth to African Americans during their struggle for equality. It wasn’t until 1976 that this celebration was expanded and renamed as Black History Month. Today, however, Black History Month is not as effective as it once was. Using February to celebrate black history may be more important for those who were alive during the Jim Crow era, but there is now a generation gap.

Although the proposal to end Black History Month will likely offend those who have lived through segregation, African Americans may benefit from its demise. Since America is known as a land of diversity, it is crucial to recognize the struggles each race has gone through. Having a Black History Month does not integrate America’s complete cultural history.

Actor Morgan Freeman has pushed to eliminate Black History Month for years, claiming that it only encourages racism. He says that in order to beat racism, we need to simply “stop talking about it” and avoid identifying people as “Black” and “White.”

There is no longer a need to have one month dedicated to any particular race. The role Black history has played in America is far too monumental to be watered down 11 months out of the year. Since each nationality has in some way played a significant role in our society, they deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated equally.

Latest comments
  • Or we could create a Black Future Month

    With all due respect, to, Black History month, the month of March, shall establish the first Black Future Month, but not by lip service. By action, we can establish and inspire betterment for struggling blacks everywhere. WE CAN DO THIS!

    The San Francisco 49ers announcement of the $1 Billion stadium deal set to break ground in July 2012 in Santa Clara County, has me shouting, “Hold the phone!”

    Bank of America, US Bank, Goldman Sachs and the NFL, have agreed to finance the new 49er stadium. Concerned blacks should stand up in the month of March. Simply, march into the Third Street Bank of America and respectfully announce, YOU ARE CLOSING YOUR ACCOUNT in protest of this deal.

    Struggling Blacks everywhere should feel stabbed in the back by this possible move because that is what it is doing. There is no legitimate reason on record, for the 49ers to leave, unless you believe the reasons of (1) “Traffic” (2) “Closer to the Santa Clara office” and get this, (3) Candlestick Point “Does not meet the needs of the 49ers.” The team has sold out every regular season game (65,000) for the past thirty years; what “Needs.”

    To establish the first, “Black Future Month”, we must first fight economic injustice in the San Francisco Bayview Hunter Point area. San Francisco officials, the 49ers, and the NFL are neglecting one of the great cities of the world, with the help of three major banks and this is simply unacceptable. Millions of dollars in much needed community business opportunities and jobs is at stake but there is one other more important aspect.

    History of professional football says the league and all connected owe all blacks a minimum duty of respect for the many contributions of its black employees, past and present, for helping the National Football League become king of sports in America.

    As reported, the NFL has agreed to loan the team $200 million, to go alone with another $850 million in funding secured by this agreement with three banks mentioned and Santa Clara officials, for the new stadium. Again I say, hold the phone.

    The San Francisco 49ers and the NFL leaving an area of San Francisco, populated by a large number of struggling black residents and struggling minority owned businesses, says, “We don’t care anymore about struggling blacks.”

    Many hollow promises will be made to appease those most negatively affected by this move. To that a response of thanks but no thanks, we want the 49ers to stay, is best.

    The starting point for Black Future must send another response. With full knowledge of how hard, it is to get a major bank to set up in any depressed areas, a respectful and quiet protest against the 49ers, and the NFL will begin in March 2012 by closing your account(s) at the Third Street branch of the Bank of America first.

  • That may all be fine in well in the perfect little bubble of racial equality that is the SF Bay area, but what about the rest of the world? Better yet… what about the rest of the United States? Still too far reaching? O.K. how about the rest of California?

    This article is insulting.

    Morgan Freeman is an actor. His opinion on the importance of Black History Month is no more valid than Charlie Sheen’s. His experience in this day and age does not reflect that of most black people in America. To “stop talking about it” is a step backward, not forward. Black History Month was started specifically because it wasn’t being talked about.

    To state “…this month is often used as an excuse to ignore important Black figures the rest of the year. Separating Black history from American history also discredits the many contributions African Americans have made to our country.”
    is at its worst irresponsible and at best bad journalism. The writer makes this statement without the benefit of any empirical or even anecdotal evidence. In fact, since the introduction of Black History Month, textbooks now include the achievements of African Americans.

    It would be wonderful if racism in the United States had faded away to the point where it wasn’t necessary to have a special month set aside to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in the United States. We aren’t there yet. Racism is alive and well in the United States, in California and even in the liberal bastion of San Francisco. That is part of our history. Getting rid of Black History Month on the assumption that suddenly McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Dushkin etc. are suddenly going to start including the accomplishments of African Americans is simple naivete.

    The generation gap you refer to is very real. You would benefit by bridging that gap and speaking to some people who grew up in Jim Crow or even the cultural upheaval of the 1960’s.

    History is still being written. The experience for African Americans in this country is still in its infancy. Cultural changes are not like Facebook updates. They don’t happen instantly and there are actual consequences to your actions and words.

    Please consider that as a journalist, you have a responsibility to choose your words carefully. I can delete comments that I make in anger or that I don’t think out. You don’t have that luxury.