Anytime someone calls Black History Month ridiculous, they’re met with immediate backlash (as they should). But in a throwback video, Morgan Freeman makes an argument for why we should re-think our position on that statement.
“You're going to relegate my history to a month?” the 79-year-old actor said during a “60 Minutes” interview in 2005. “I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history.”
The Oscar-winning actor’s beliefs reiterate those of historian Carter G. Woodson, also known as the “Father of Black History Month.”
Woodson dedicated his career to making sure African-American history was taught and studied after he noticed black people were poorly underrepresented in school lessons and books. In 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History) and, 11 years later, created Negro History Week, which eventually expanded to become Black History Month.
Explaining why studying black history is so important, Woodson said, “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.”
Woodson hoped that black history and American history would one day become integral to each other, thus ending Black History Month altogether. However, the U.S., Canada and a number of other countries still continue to celebrate Black History Month every February to this day.
In the throwback video, Freeman’s frustration regarding this fact is clear as he notes there’s no “white history month.” (And we would argue that white people are celebrated every day so they don't need a month.)
When “60 Minutes” host Mike Wallace opposed the actor’s views and asked how racism can end without the dedicated month, Freeman responded with a simple answer.
“Stop talking about it,” he said. “I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”
However, many still believe that black history and accomplishments need to be recognized before skin colour can be ignored.
Last year, Whoopi Goldberg made this perfectly clear on “The View” when she said: “[Black history is] not taught as it pertains to America. American history holds all of us but we're not all treated like Americans.”
And, as many of us know, black people still face an abundance of racism and unfair treatment from the police to the courts, not to mention the daily prejudice they face from strangers and online trolls.
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