I read a blog on Technorati.com about an independent film maker’s quest to end Black History Month.  The movie More Than a Month is made by and follows Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a 29-year-old African-American, as he travels around various cities attempting to get signatures on a petition to end black history month.  The filming took place over the course of February 2010, and each location addressed topics such as education, history, identity, and commercialism as they relate to black history.Although this film is specifically about Black History Month, it is clear that its larger purpose is to open a public forum and discuss the celebrations and histories of a wide array of heritage groups.  Although only a preview of the movie was available, because the movie is slated to be released in 4 days, it was still interesting to hear some of the brief comments by people (of all ethnicities) about their feelings towards Black History Month.  For example, Morgan Freeman is quite clear about not wanting a Black History Month.  While milling around the internet reading other people’s opinions on the issue, I came across a variety of articles that discuss the pro’s and con’s to a thing such as Black History Month.  Personally, I find the arguments against Black History Month to be much more fascinating; a celebratory month for a people who were severely discriminated against seems on the surface to be an obviously good thing.  However, articles such as this one put the concept of Black History Month in a much different light: the author briefly discusses things such as the current economic position of most black people, and makes the point that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him” and that Black History Month probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

The negatives of something such as Black History Month are something that could easily, and I think usually do, get overlooked.  I happen to fully agree with the message of the movie, and applaud the effort it took to get people thinking about it.  Does February being Black History Month make the rest of the year White History Month x11?  Or why not have every month dedicated to a different heritage?  More realistically, it seems like the obvious answer is to eliminate Black History Month and make black history more integrated (no pun intended) into the rest of American history.

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7 responses »

  1. KCasty says:

    This is an interesting proposal, and something that I have never heard of or considered before. I’m not sure I quite agree with it, but it is definitely interesting to hear that African Americans are against Black History Month.

  2. Jordi says:

    Oh, I think you did intend the pun. Is it gutsy for the film-maker to be Black and make this film?

    • Paul Martin says:

      I actually don’t think it’s gutsy; I more view it as just one of those things that only a black male or female could have done, because any other ethnicity promoting the end of Black History Month would simply have been viewed as racist. Not that someone from a non-black background couldn’t have done it, but I just feel like it would have been much more of an uphill battle because the question would then be greeted in a very different way.

      • Jeff Galloway says:

        I agree with Paul when he says that the film maker has an advantage by being black for this. The best way to reach an audience is by criticizing something that is about you, not by criticizing something about someone else. If a white man made a film about how Black History Month should be eliminated, I feel as though the message of the film would be skewed. It wouldn’t be about the legitimate reasons that Paul talks above, instead people would just question why a white man is talking about Black History Month.

  3. This is a really interesting concept. The previously mentioned points are interesting that the film maker is at an advantage to speak to the issue. Each side of the argument carries some interesting weight…. take away black history month and demonstrate equality….leave it and demonstrate the progress america has made. Maybe it is something to consider with the interest of time. We are still so close in the history of the country to the civil rights movements. Black history month generally does bring about stories, news paper clippings, tv reports, focus in schools that brings people back to the importance of civil rights. At the same time, it can be perceived as another means of separation.

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