The Bridge: Abolishing Black History Month—An Incomplete Argument


By Darryl James

We are now at the end of another Black History Month.

We have some Black History in the making, especially with the new Black President.

However, some of us are also in the middle of silly arguments over whether or not the tradition of celebrating Black history during one month each year should continue.

On one side of the argument are people who realize that if not for the February celebration, Black History would continue on it’s ride at the back of the education bus, relegated to three or four pages in the American History books and a brief discussion, if at all.

On the other side of the argument are people with incomplete lines of thinking, who only go as far as the assertion that Black History should not be relegated to one month a year.  Their thoughts are that Black History is an integral portion of American History and that it should be taught alongside every other portion of the nation’s past.

Good argument, but incomplete.

The problem is that Black History was never celebrated alongside every other portion of this country’s history and is not now.  Instead, Black History was obfuscated and when touched on, revealed in fragmented and sometimes false context, if at all.  And, there are no immediate plans to integrate Black History into the rest of American history.

The argument for the abolition of Black History Month is incomplete because it calls for the destruction of the celebration, but pursues no real plan for creating a real method of delivery of Black History into American history.

The incomplete argument is similar to the boneheads who want to destroy Affirmative Action, but have no plan to address the lack of parity in our society.

To this day, very little Black History is taught in our schools.

Now, if in fact, American educational institutions had begun to correct this mistake, then perhaps it would make sense to no longer assign Black History to one month a year.  However, the curriculum of elementary and high schools is still sorely lacking when it comes to teaching the achievements and contributions of African Americans to this society.

The argument to abolish Black History month is incomplete and silly because it includes the inane assumption that Black History Month is the actual reason for our history not being recognized as an intrinsic portion of American History.  The reality that is ignored in pursuit of the abolition argument is that Black History Month (originally established as Negro History Week by historian Carter G. Woodson), was established because our history was being overlooked.

And there are two crucial problems with the abolition argument.

First, ignorant Negroes are at the helm of the push to abolish the celebration.  Who asked them to wake up and decide that the entire race of African Americans no longer desire or need the celebration?  That would be no one.

Second, these ignorant Negroes with dubious intentions are suggesting that Black History be taught all year, but are making absolutely no movement towards bringing such into being.

Quite frankly, I am not offended by having my history celebrated during one month each year.  I know that no matter what, that month comes around each year.  I also know that during the month, not only do more non-Black Americans pay attention to my history, but many Black Americans take the time to pay attention to it, when they may not do so otherwise.

I also know that until this nation erases more of its racism and ignorance to it’s own diversity, having one month each year really isn’t a harmful event.

Joyce King, a freelance writer who supports the empty charge against proverbial windmills, once wrote in USA Today: “There are two ways to make Black history more accessible—teach it every month and stop calling it that.  US History is who we all are, what shaped us.”

That sounds cute, but until we get to the point where Black History really is taught every month and recognized as a crucial part of U.S. History, then eradicating Black History Month is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Let’s make the argument complete and then tie it into real action.

All of the people who think that we should abolish Black History Month should work together to establish Black History curriculum in the schools.  When that is firmly ensconced, then and only then, should we put an end to Black History Month.

So, to the Negroes who believe they are doing or saying something revolutionary by suggesting that Black History Month come to and end, my suggestion is just this: Pick up a book next month and learn something about Black History you didn’t know and then share that with someone who isn’t Black or doesn’t know.

That’s really what the month is all about.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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5 Responses to “The Bridge: Abolishing Black History Month—An Incomplete Argument”

  1. Darryl:

    The reason is neglect of Black Studies. A recent Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit at Henry Ford Museum was obscured by a car exhibit all around it. The stones of the past are just not that interesting to people already reaping the benefits fo their forefather’s (and Mother’s) sacrifices. If we forget and refuse to stack them for a memorial, we are all the poorer people for it.

  2. fred_53_99 Says:

    We as black people need to live our black culture and history all year long. We can do this by reminding our selves that we are a part of evr part of American and world society. Oh by the way Jews tend to do this and I don’t remember any one calling for them to stop teaching thier children thier history and culture and if anyone did do you think they would even take a second to listen? No.

  3. Nothing wrong with highlighting achievements so people can learn a thing or two…

    May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
    November is Native American Heritage Month.
    October is GLBT History Month

    I totally agree with you Mr. James. Your article was very well written and a joy to read.

    The struggle intensifies!

  4. 060510

    Dear Myra,

    Might you consider the Forward to DISCOVER HOWIE KENNY LIMMIN NATE RAY SISSOM (Authorhouse, 2007), and send me a note, or ask someone you know to do so? I’d presented some of this at Harvard, Oxford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, ASALH, and there’s a lot more of it which has been recently requested.

    I did not see What The Never Taught You in History Class (Indus Khemut Kush, 1983) on your recommended book list, nor was any of Joel Roger’s work there, and hope you may consider pacing these authors or your recommended reading list.

    Professor J. Henrik Clark had officially consulted for my seminar with the NYC Board of Education, after Professor Hans Goedicke had reviewed DISCOVER, at Johns Hopkins. I’m currently investigating The Clinical Epidemiology of Pathological Anti Social Thinking (PAST) Among Individuals and Groups.

    I have been inspired by your efforts and hope to hear from you. Keep up your most important work.

    Doc
    R.A.Jones, M.D.
    Director, Healthy Music Lab Research Mathematics
    Teaching Tools For Tolerance Projects
    Chairman and Director of Research
    People Against Racism, Inc
    Founder and President
    The American Society of Ancient African American Studies
    The American Society of Meso African American Studies
    Founder and President
    The Global Industrial Number Company, Inc.
    Editor-in-Chief
    The American Journal of Medical Mathematics

  5. Asar John Polk Says:

    Hotep My Brothers & Sisters,
    This may be the impetus for us to move forward. Like our ancestors, the Ancient Kemites described their origins as coming from the mountain of the Moon, at the origin of the Nile river, Land of the Black (ref. Prt M Heru-M.Ashby). Perhaps Black History Month can be the activator to catapult us to Re-member or Remind us of who we are and where we came from. Blk History Month is the foundation for us to build on, therefore, this is probably a good time to upgrade Black History Month to African- American History Month. This will undoubtedly draw us closer together knowing who US is. Remember, the plan is to keep us separated, and ignorant of who and what we are, it’s time for Change. You do know that Baracks name spelled backwards is S(k)carab. WE ARE TRANSFORMING.
    Hotep
    Asar

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