How relevant is Black History Month now?

February is Black History Month, which was instituted to educate the public about the achievements and experiences of African Americans. Today’s question: How relevant is Black History Month now?

  • azna a amira

    Carter Woodson instituted what became Black History Month because there was a desperate need for it. He felt that people who had been written out of the history books needed to have an awareness of their contributions to society–as does every ethnic group. Slavery and it’s aftermath is still the 600 pound gorilla in America’s living room, asking to be acknowledged; we need to have informed and rational discussions about race, and to recognize the damage done both to the oppressors and the oppressed.

    However, perhaps the time has come to put black history where it belonged all along: squarely in the mainstream of American and world history, not as some ghettoized spot on the calendar or in colleges. We are a part of this history, not some optional adjunct.

  • Dianne

    Until the history of all peoples is included in our education as a cohesive unit, there is a need for Black History Month, as well as a need for the history of Native People and GLBT persons.

  • Steve the Cynic

    America has done more good than harm in world history. However, our greatest national character flaw is our arrogance, which could be ameliorated if we paid more attention to our worst moral failings of the past: slavery, the Native American genocide, segregation, the oppression of women, etc. Until these episodes are integrated into the history curriculum, things like Black History Month will continue to be appropriate.

  • Gerald Myking

    My first thought was that it wasn’t effectively teaching Black History due to our less than stellar education system. Then I realized the great professor had also taken up the task, Professor Boob Tube. Movies about Martin Luther, Medgar Evers, and Malcom X might inspire some young people to read one of those thick paper things with words in it.

  • steve

    i think it is very relevant and part of american society!

  • hiram

    I suspect we have largely moved on.

  • Nathan

    How about integrating the months?

  • Chris

    Maybe Black History month should be changed to Slavery United month. What is rarely touched on in text book history is the slavery many cultures have endured & this realization could be a uniting factor. My Great Great Grandmother was an Irish slave. Not many people even realize that the Irish had been enslaved, some indentured, more like my Great Grand mother where fully enslaved. In the south an Irish slave was worth less than a black slave. This is my personal history. What about our rail roads built on the backs of Chines slaves, or the Native Americans that were enslaved? All these cultures should be recognized and celebrated. Maybe in slavery we could find a commonality? Maybe if we united to stop slavery that still continues it could be eliminated. Maybe…

  • James

    Look at me I’m special, hay pay attention to me because of my skin color,,, you’re not paying enough attention to me….

    Get over it, this is the year 2011.

    DTOM

  • J M

    If the blacks can have their own “history month”, then let’s use the other remaining eleven for all the other ethnic groups in the country. Say, American Indian History Month, American Jewish, American Japanese, American Irish…. Then, once each group claims a month on a first-come-first-serve basis or a lottery system, they are then allowed to pick a notable person in their respective ethnic group and claim a Monday of that month to make a Federal holiday so the Post Office won’t have to deliver the mail. If enough ethnic groups wish to claim a history month and that number exceeds the allowable twelve per year, the only fair and politically correct thing to do is either reduce the number of days in a month and expand the calendar with a sufficient number of months to satisfy all the ethnic groups who wish to have a history month. Or institute a rotating schedule so that each ethnic group will share a history month which will change hands based on the number of groups sharing a month, one year per ethnic group. It is assumed that there is a sufficient number of ethnic groups wanting their own history month, so a maximum of four ethnic groups may share any given month so that each groups will have their history recognized for one month every four years. Under a rotating schedule, each ethnic group will still be allowed their Monday Federal holiday each year regardless if it’s their turn to have the history month or not.

    And the Post Office will have solved the problem of which day of the week to reduce the delivery of mail.

    To be fair and politically correct and if there there happens to be yet more ethnic groups who wish to claim a history month, then the rotating schedule will be expanded so that eight groups may share a month so that each group’s history will be recognized once every eight years. In order to be fair and politically correct, each ethnic group may claim a Monday or a Friday to be the Federal Holiday. Priority for the first Monday of the month shall be given to the currently recognized ethnic group in the rotating schedule for that month, with the other groups in descending order based on which group is next in line for their history to be observed. Once an ethnic group’s history has been recognized for the month, their respective Federal holiday will be moved the last Friday of that month. The Federal holidays will be assigned to each ethnic group based on their position in the rotation.

    Under this plan, the Post Office will be able to reduce by two days per week they won’t have to deliver the mail.

    As more ethnic groups come forward to have their history recognized, and to be fair and politically correct, this method of allocating history months and Federal holidays can be expanded to accommodate up to twenty ethnic groups per moth and still have their chosen notable person be recognized on a Federal holiday

    And the Post Office won’t have to worry about which day of the week not to deliver the mail.

  • Remi Eichten

    Black history IS American history, yet it is not taught as such. So in many ways by selecting only a month to discuss all that African-Americans have accomplished, contributed, and overcome in the United States and the world does a disservice to African-Americans as well as the larger American community. It amounts to superficial information overload and incomplete understandings. For example, there is more to Black History than Slavery and if Black History were taught as part and parcel of American History the average American, recent immigrants, and the international community would better understand who we are as Americans and as a nation.

  • Clelia

    If all American history was taught more extensively in the schools a special Black History month might not be necessary. However, as a society we are still plagued by many social problems that have evolved from the racial problems of 360 years of slavery in addition to another 100 years of continued legal oppression (physical, economic, social, educational, etc.) . Fortunately, the Civil Rights movement started to move us toward change. I think history (which I had no interest in as a young person) makes us all richer in our understanding of other groups, and if it can be taught in any way, it helps us all. It helps us be more alert to injustice and less arrogant. This is a great country, but we are not immune to being unjust. At this point American history is not yet taught in a way that is comprehensive, so until that changes emphasizing Black history during one month is helpful. I love Public broadcasting because it exposes us to parts of history we may not be as familiar with and, in doing that, increases our understanding of each other.

  • Mary Voss

    Black History IS American history but is largely ignored in most history books and courses. YES it does need to be taught!

  • Michelle

    DTOM James–

    Um, wow. Wake up. There are still people in this country who admittedly did not vote for our current president because of his skin color. And it’s 2011. We’re not over it yet.

  • Kevin VC

    Personally I think HALLMARK needs to stop petitioning congress for more and more holidays and special events.

    I knew when it meant something in school, during the ‘special months’ we would study the details of what made it special. Be it Lincolns birthday or Washington’s….

    But now the most we get is a commercial mentioning it. Deluded in the sea if information….

    Maybe its because I am a adult and I am allowed to see what I want and my ADD kicks in.

    But as a child I would say it gave me the opportunity to learn more, and I would not trade that out for any other distraction. It will remain with me. It also gave me a chance to learn of my own parents participation in the 50’s and 60’s in the events. Even though white, they knew enough that segregation was wrong.

  • James

    Michelle,

    WHAT! He’s black?

    WOW!…. I wouldn’t care if he were purple.

    That does not have much to do with his leadership skills.

    Or does it?

    DTOM

  • Wallace

    If we are to be truly color blind then important figures of “black history” should be incorporated into “regular” history. But if Black History Month is an opportunity to continue to blame centuries of slavery (now 150 years past) and racist laws (now 50 years past) for the problems of poverty, illegitimacy, drugs and crime that plague the black community, then it is a bad joke. And Black History Month will be a worse joke as long as it is obsessed with a romantic illusion of black Africa as some utopia of noble, albeit primitive civilization, which was “ruined” by the arrival of European, Christian missionaries. Africa today, for all its burgeoning technology, remains a bastion of paganism, tribalism, and incredible violence. It is home to some of the most bestial dictators in history, and some of the bloodiest ongoing conflicts even seen. Africa is a basket case of war, pestilence, and famine, and if “Black History” is to be relevant it needs to face that fact.

    And Chris: Good point about enslaved Irish, Chinese and Native Americans.

  • Bill Jolitz

    Most Americans are cultural illiterates, they know very little about the folk from other parts of the world who are here now. What we need are other cultural months for our other people, Asian, Indian, North American First Nations, South American First Nations and so on.

  • Ge En

    At Michelle …

    “Um, wow” people also voted for him due to the fact he was black. Is that some sort of inverted racism? Segregation was more of a hint if anything. You aren’t slaves anymore. Go “home”. Clearly the black oppression was better than going back to Africa and running around naked and clicking their tongues. This is America.. Past and present.. If you don’t like it you are FREE to leave.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Clearly the black oppression was better than going back to Africa and running around naked and clicking their tongues.”

    And that makes oppression okay?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ Della

    Always a good job right here. Keep rolling on thorugh.