Culture

Black History Month

David Oyelowo in Selma
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an African American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His adherence to non-violent tactics and his oratory talents were effective in bringing an end to legal racial segregation and in combating racism generally. King was assassinated in 1968. | Photo: Archives | Martin Luther King, Activist, Civil Rights, Assassinated,

Why There Needs To Be A Black History Month

It’s February, so that must mean its Black History Month. It’s during this month that we really get to learn and even appreciate Black history. But not everyone shares this sentiment. Over the past years there have been some who would like to end Black History Month. 2016 has only just begun and already tensions seem to be high in regard to racial matters. It is easy to see how the racial tensions in this county have reached new highs recently. So the question is - Why does there need to be a Black History Month? Is it just to learn about Black history or is it something more?

Some people seem to believe that Black History month is nothing but a divisive tool and that every race should be celebrated. It sounds fair, however, this perception doesn’t do black history justice. The purpose of this month is not to divide the people of this country, but its purpose is to point out how much black people have gone through and yet, still overcame major obstacles. From inventors, to former slaves, to Civil Rights Leaders, to entertainers. It’s important to see how most of these significant figures lived through a time where they literally had nothing in their favor and somehow still managed to make incredible strides for blacks living in this country today. Figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks deserve to be celebrated and not to be belittled. And if their accomplishments are reduced down to being included and celebrated in a month, so be it.

A common habit in most Americans seems to be bias towards a way of thinking. We only perceive things through our perspective and not another’s. It becomes so hard to even fathom another perspective that isn’t our own. So, we resort to this simplistic mentality that ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ So when it comes to the celebration of Black History, instead of seeing the need to celebrate it, it is only seen by some as a divisive tool or even unnecessary. Blacks have been told to ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s in the past.’ Yet, history is not something we are supposed to get over. Not only should we embrace history, but we should never forget it or get over it. We see history every time we walk outside or encounter people on the streets. It’s literally everywhere. And given the long history of this country, especially pertaining to how Blacks were treated, it should never be forgotten. It should be remembered to not only inform the younger generations but adults as well. Black history is not the history of Blacks, but Black history is American history. So, that only leaves one question, and it’s not ‘why does there need to be a Black History Month?’ but ‘Why are people so offended by American history?’

Criticism


Black History Month often sparks an annual debate about the continued usefulness and fairness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one race. Criticism include questions over whether it is appropriate to confine the celebration of black history to one month, as opposed to integration of black history into the mainstream education the rest of the year. Another criticism is that contrary to the original inspiration for Black History Month, which was a desire to redress the manner in which British schools failed to represent black historical figures as anything other than slaves or colonial subjects, Black History Month reduces complex historical figures to overly simplified objects of hero worship. Another criticism, usually leveled by whites, is that the celebration is racist.

Black celebrities such as actor and director Morgan Freeman and actress Stacey Dash have criticized Black History Month, with Freeman saying, "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." Freeman has argued that there was no White History Month, because white people did not want their history relegated to just one month.

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 5:29 AM EDT | More details

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