Do we really need Black History Month?

The passing of Coretta Scott King, the wife of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., started me thinking again about something I heard on television back in December. The comment was this:

You’re going to relegate my history to a month? I don’t want a Black History Month. Black History is American History.”

Actor Morgan Freeman made that remark during a “60 Minutes” interview with Mike Wallace who had traveled to the MidSouth to talk to Mr. Freeman.

I started thinking about how in Memphis, during the month of February, television stations usually attempt to do something to honor those black leaders who left their mark on history. Don’t get me wrong; I think there were some powerful people who helped the cause along the way. But each year I’ve been in Memphis, black reporters are assigned to do a series of stories or Public Service Announcements on the same people year after year. Some of these stories are well done. Other reports appeared to have been phoned in.

Who doesn’t know what George Washington Carver did with peanuts, that Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a fearless anti-lynching crusader and that Robert Church Sr. was born a slave but by the end of his life had become the South’s first African-American millionaire. If I were a person of color, I’d be a little P.O.ed that I was given a month for black history and then fell off the radar screen until the same time next year. If we are going to do it, why don’t we honor heroes and great people all year long and let’s examine those every day heroes and everyday great people. You know who they are. They are the people who make a difference in everyday life and usually are NOT politicians or someone in the public eye. Yah, you have to look for them and chances are, they don’t want the publicity. But it’s easier to trot out the same old, same old, find some pictures, and narrate a track on them than to hustle out and find these unsung heroes.

Perhaps someone has done that and I just missed it. I would love to see such a thing on local television, but I won’t hold my breath.

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6 Comments on “Do we really need Black History Month?”

  1. bishop Says:

    Joe,

    I have to take issue with this topic. I agree that February is a short month but it is the month given to blacks. If we trace the other months, blacks are not recognized! So take black history month away and what do you get? Blacks being overlooked as usual. I totally agree with Morgan Freeman but I also see his point of view in regards to the shortness of the month. We should leave black history month as is and let’s celebrate the month that blacks are given.

  2. Joe Larkins Says:

    I appreciate the feedback, but why do we need just one month. Why not do this all year long. Black History IS American history the last time I checked and if we are going to continue to use just one month, let’s improve the way it’s done on local television. I think you would agree that if you are going to do something to mark a special occasion, then do it right and do it well.

  3. bishop Says:

    I agree with you on your last statment. However, black accomplishments are not noticed all year around. Do you see what I’m saying? It would be different if blacks were being reognized all year around but there not. We have to keep the month as is!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Joe,

    Those words were so kind and true. Thank you for taking the time to make that profound statement about Black History and the change that needs to be made.

    Aside from that…I will be glad to see you back on the everyday television screen in the very near future!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Ethel Sengstacke is one of those unkowns! She is the 17 year old high school girl mentioned in the book “By The River I Stand” who , was maced by police in front of her Father’s business, for no reason, (W. Alexander Sengstacke of the Tri State Defender.) She has always tried her best to be a part of the solution, and not the problem. Her mother Mattie was the same way. Quietly doing what is needed to make life better for all of us.
    ……..J. Dwyer

  6. bishop Says:

    Anonymous 3:24

    What?


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