Should We Ditch Black History Month?

by Britni Danielle

More than a month

Every February America rolls up its collective sleeves to honor the contributions and history of our ancestors. Since its inception by Cater G. Woodson, Black History month has continued to shine a spotlight on some of our heros who sadly go unnoticed, but a new film asks if we should get rid of it all together.

In the film More Than A Month, Shukree Hassan Tilghman travels across the U.S. on his quest to end Black History Month.  While it sounds like a radical idea, Tilghman argues that by keeping Black History Month around we reenforce the notion that our history is somehow not American history.

Recently, Tilghman sat down with the Root to discuss his film and why he wants to do away with Black History Month.

Check out an excerpt from the interview.

The Root: What has been your own experience with Black History Month?

Shukree Hassan Tilghman: I loved Black History Month growing up. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I started to look around and [see] Heineken’s “Celebrate Black History Month” ad on the bus. Like, all right, maybe that’s cool, but in a certain way I felt that the continued existence of Black History Month was being condescended to in a certain way. That maybe the month was contributing to a perception that the history wasn’t American or somehow not as important as some other American history. That’s when I started questioning.

TR: What do you think it means that it’s 2012 and we’re still celebrating Black History Month?

SHT: I think it means that we’ve let ourselves off the hook a little, especially as African Americans. We’ve allowed a situation to continue where we know there’s a lack of teaching of African-American history. Not for every school district, of course, but generally speaking, we know there is a lack of this history, but we’ve allowed Black History Month to be a sort of Band-Aid.

We should question what that means now. I think it also means that the celebration of black history at any given time is important to people, or [the month] wouldn’t still be around. I think it can actually be two things at once, whether one agrees with my previous statement or not.

TR: Why do you think the idea of ending it is so controversial?

SHT: There is a lot of attachment to Black History Month. I think it causes a strong reaction. At a time when people thought we had no history at all, that there was nothing to talk about, nothing worth writing down … out of that comes Negro History Week. Then it [becomes] Black History Month.

So there’s a lot of emotion, and there’s a lot of valid reasons to feel an attachment to Black History Month for what it is. I would just like to say that [ending] Black History Month is not counter to that mission; it’s just a continuation of the same struggle.

What do you think…do we still need Black History Month? 

  • malik hemmans

    we should martin luther king since that’s the only black person we talk about anyway -_-

  • malik hemmans

    we should call it martin luther king month since that’s the only black person we talk about anyway -_-

  • Fiore Scott

    When textbooks actually have an adequate amount of information and fact regarding the history of blacks and African Americans in America (and elsewhere), then we can start to think about getting rid of black history month. There are too many black folk that already don’t know their history and we have a month supposedly dedicated to it. So I’m going to wager a guess and say that the amount of black history that would be lost without a month dedicated to it would be debilitating to a group of people who have too many that have already fallen into forgetfulness and ignorance.

  • Tonton Michel

    Ditch Black History Month in favor of what? Being relegated to footnotes for the rest of the year? Its this type of shortsighted thinking that makes you give a side eye to some of these younger black intellects. He wants black history to disappear that demand that it is given equal attention year round like any other part of American History. That’s how you end it.

  • Kaya

    I’ve found the younger generations are confused then ever as to why we celebrate black history month and who can blame em. I had to grew up and through self study learned on my own. We recycle the same civil black leaders (especially where I grew up) to where people only know the 5 basic.
    we shouldn’t get rid of it we should try to reeducate the meaning of BHM.

  • Chnyere

    Ummm, lets see how may people can tell me when the slaves were freed and the first black person who served on the US government (WITHOUT SEARCHING ONLINE), yea didn’t think so…

  • coco

    I don’t care if it is once a month. We should never forget. It is like a reminder of what our parents and grandparents went through to get us to were we are now. We can not let it be a fading memory. No matter how uppity we black fokes get. There will always be that reminder. Just because your young and you didn’t feel the pain of racism. We do have a legacy that we must still have in our minds and hearts. Not only for ourselves but for our children. Because they are trying to make it a fading memory. So we must not fall into the trap forgetfulness. Right now they trying to take some more of our history out of the history books. So our children will learn less. So at least if we have that one month it would be a reminder for thous who may become ignorate to the past.

  • sli

    I wish somebody would walk up to me with a petition to end Black History Month, smh. Please find something more productive to do, Mr. Tilghman.

  • sli

    and your point is….

  • Atheist & Proud

    Don’t talk about it, Be about it.

    I personally don’t say the reason why we celebrate BHM. It’s funny because the dude that started BHM intended it to be a temporary situation. But in 2012 we’re still celebrating it. This is so ironic. Black History is American history. So why segregate it. Do we celebrate White History Month? What about Yellow History Month? Red?…

    Anyways, I support Black business and learn about contributions by people of African descent all the time not just in February.

  • yannii

    I’m sort of torn on exactly how I feel about ending BHM, but I can say that the reason why people never really learn about Black History is because I DO feel that BHM gives teachers the excuse to only teach it once in February. What about the other 11 months of the year? Everybody knows that you learn through repetition; what good is it to only teach black history for 28 and some odd days. Then as soon as March 1st rolls around, its back to whitey’s world.

    I feel like BHM is similar to freshman year of college when your’e still taking BS classes like baby bio as a business major. You’ll cram for that one test just to pass, then you erase it from your mind as soon as you hand in the test.

  • Tonton Michel

    Yeah because you spent your time so productively telling him what to do with his, because he really cares what you think.

  • @ifeedemlead

    He is correct that Black history is part of American history, its the part thats rarely told.

  • tayona

    Sure, I don’t really care about BHM. I’m all down to ditch it but just as long as we ditch all the other little or nonsense holidays like mother’s day, valentine and ah President’s day!

  • Perverted Alchemist

    “Sure, I don’t really care about BHM. I’m all down to ditch it but just as long as we ditch all the other little or nonsense holidays like mother’s day, valentine and ah President’s day!”

    That will never happen, in my opinion. All of those nonsense holidays are based around the idea of being corporate sponsored. As long as there’s money to be made, you can forget about Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day being ditched, LOL!!

  • Reason

    My experience with BHM all my life has been “Look at all the black entertainers” (with a little Booker T. Washington Vs. W.E.B. Dubois thrown in). But what does it really matter when modern black Americans are STILL HAVING the same argument that B.T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois had? And if you don’t get that reference, well…

  • Humanista

    As someone who was educated in my household a/b black history, I can see why one would want it to end. Every year, teachers and corporations w/ pull in the black community (via commercial) regurgitate the same 3 paragraphs a/b slavery and the 60s and MAYBE 3 sentences about the Harlem Renaissance found in these half-ass “American” history books. I believe that as black Americans, we need to be learning a/b our history as much as possible, throughout the year.

    We need to push harder for a more thorough and FACTUAL** representation of Black history (and Native American history, and etc.) AS AMERICAN HISTORY in general, and not be satisfied w/ a month superficially dedicated to this cause, cuz how things work now is better than nothing, but it isn’t cutting it.

    ** I’ll never forget the time my grade school history book tried to tell me that only 70 lynchings occurred following the Civil War through up the Civil Rights Movement. That’s a symptom of how much more we need than a single month of observation and celebration.

  • Chnyere

    WOW really sli, we need black history month because we are not well aware of our history…smh

  • Gregory

    I love how people think that Black HIstory is so much more important than any other race. and as if we didn’t put any other race into slavery or discriminate against them. Asians were forced to build our railroads and then were not allowed to be citizens but I never heard about that in High School. I completely agree with some of the people on here that our history books SUCK. People need to change them.

  • Gregory

    I was mistaken I thought the Chinese who built the railroads were slaves, but they weren’t.

  • seventeen

    I would much rather have Black Present month because too much history becomes regressive…It could be called Black Reparations month in honor of making amends for the national racism that ruled America’s past.

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