Columnist wonders whether black history month is viable

I never read Phillip Morris of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer before today, so I don’t know his history or track record. But his column today is a thought provoker of sorts. The premise is whether there is any more need for Black History Month because of Barack Obama’s rise to the highest position in US history for a black man.

Here’s an excerpt:

Woodson’s foresight 83 years ago this month helped changed the way the Negro viewed himself and, in turn, the way the rest of America viewed the Negro.

Woodson’s work undoubtedly also helped lay the groundwork that gave America the courage and conviction to politically groom and elect President Barack Obama, less than 150 years from the end of slavery.

But now that we’ve reached this crowning point in our history, are we mature enough as a nation to accept as fact that our histories really are one — and have always been one?

I should note that Morris is black himself. But that doesn’t strengthen or diminish his point, it merely makes it tolerable for folks who have been screaming in agreement long before Nov. 4, 2008.

I honestly disagree with his simplistic view. It’s very easy to cry and say we don’t have Jewish History month, as Morris notes, or any other European themed history celebration. But that disregards the fact that black history month is still the most ignored educational experience for K-12 schools in non-diverse communities. For instance, Chico, Calif., which has a population of less than 3 percent African-Americans, has a see-no evil, hear no-evil policy on Black History Month. If a child does have a question on the month and why it isn’t covered, teachers are instructed to answer the questions, but there is no volunteering of information.

Morris poses the simple question (which I am paraphrasing), why is there a need for this celebratory month when we should be celebrating a unified history all year long? And I have a simple answer: Because if we didn’t, there wouldn’t be any effort for others to learn about the sins of our unified past.

Till this day, I am still astounded by the number of people (white and black) who do not know about Juneteenth. It’s a part of our history that is ignored in 21 states. How do we reconcile that?

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