Monday, February 27, 2006

Black History Month

I was inspired to write this post for two reasons. First, the month is almost over and I realized I've barely mentioned it on this blog. Second, some comments in a previous blog, Flight 93 regarding this issue led me to believe it deserves a post of its own.

I remember hearing a comedian once say that Black History Month was a rip-off because, "When they finally gave us a month, they picked the shortest, coldest month on the calendar!" The older I get, the more truth I think there is to that. I mean, if you really wanted to have a decent BHM, why not have it in June? It could coincide with Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. At least then we could have a barbecue! But, what the hell is there to do in February?

Then I started thinking of a bigger question. Does anybody still really celebrate Black History Month anymore? Is there even a need for it? I suppose it's good to have for school children. After all, it's great for kids to learn about Black leaders like Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Condoleeza Rice, and Colin Powell. It's better than learning that Black people were slaves, then freed, and not much else (which was primarily what was in history books when I was a kid).

But shouldn't we be past colored (no pun intended) history? I mean, Blacks have triumphed throughout American history. Shouldn't that be incorporated into our children's textbooks? When they study science shouldn't they learn that Dr. Charles Drew, a Black doctor in the 1930s, was the first to successfully separate plasma from blood? Or that he founded two of the world's largest blood banks? When they study history, politics, or government, shouldn't they know that Hiram Revels, the first Black U.S. Senator (and a Republican) was appointed to his Senate seat from the state of Mississippi in 1870?

Morgan Freeman recently did an interview with 60 Minutes where he said Black History Month was "ridiculous." He went on to say, "You're going to relegate my history to a month?...I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." I would tend to agree with him.

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