CHELSEA GARDNER | STAFF WRITER
Last week, as I scrolled through my new Facebook timeline, I discovered a particularly interesting shared photo about Morgan Freeman from a friend’s page. The image displayed a conversation with Morgan Freeman and an interviewer from a 2005 episode of CBS News “60 Minutes” where Freeman stated that he thought Black history month was “ridiculous.” As soon as I saw this, I was instantly shocked and somewhat frustrated by such a blunt and harsh word-choice. In hopes of finding some kind of explanation for this comment, I continued to read on to see why Morgan Freeman would feel this way about Black history month. As the interviewer pondered on his reasoning, Freeman followed up by saying, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month…What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month?”
In that moment, I finally began to realize what Morgan Freeman was trying to say and I must say that I do not agree with his statements. I agree that black history month should not be confined to just one month. Also, in every sense, I can understand that black history should be completely included and discussed in American history but the question is…is it? From what I have experienced and seen, it is not. I have never, in any class, completely focused on black history. I have even found that black history month is celebrated mostly in elementary and middle school. I remember having class discussions or doing projects about iconic or monumental leaders in black culture. Looking back, black history was considered important and actually celebrated in my younger years.
As I have grown up, the facts and names are unfortunately not drilled into my mind like they used to be. Having participated in the African American Cultural Center’s Live Black Wax Museum, I have noticed the lack thereof in others minds too. I have taken a history class each year of school. I took US History my junior year of high school and I can honestly say that black history was not heavily included in the discussions. I am sure that others can agree with this statement, as well. So if that means, we have to take one month out of every year to educate or refresh our minds on the leaders and makers of our culture, then we should. It is so important that we know our history. We need to be able to see how we have grown as a people and whom we must thank for these successes. Without our leaders, we would not be where we are today. It is imperative that we celebrate our history and know our history so that it won’t repeat itself. If we walk around without appreciating this month, we are doing ourselves a great dishonor. We are not allowing ourselves to truly know and experience our heritage, our leaders, and our founders.
Another important idea is that Morgan Freeman said this seven years ago, and yet it has resurfaced and was relevant in the lives of a few of my Facebook friends. I have heard quite a few people on campus discussing how they have either experienced or heard people say similar remarks as Morgan Freeman in terms of the celebration of black history month. Some people say that they don’t understand why we have black history month or that they think it’s unnecessary. I will never begin to understand how one month can create such an issue for people…but it still does. It is important to note that even in 2012, people still need to be reminded as to why black history month is celebrated.
Freeman also said, “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” The interviewer then asked him how he thought we should get rid of racism. Morgan Freeman replied by saying, “Stop talking about it.” These comments were the ones included in the image but the actual interview showed Freeman continuing by saying, “I’m gonna stop calling you a white man and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man…”
Every history teacher I have had always tells the class that the purpose of history is to educate and inform. So why would we stop talking about our ancestors and how they have allowed us to live in the world we live in today. Why would we stop talking about a social problem that has existed for years and years? It is an issue so deeply rooted in history that there is no way to just demand that it not be talked about or discussed. That would not solve anything. That would just make it a taboo discussion and people would not feel comfortable enough to stand up for their rights and beliefs.
Black culture has not always been embraced and accepted. Now that we have an opportunity to celebrate the fact that we are prevailing and making it despite all of the hardships and struggled we have had to endure is an honor in itself. Black history month is far from being ridiculous. Our ancestors put their blood, sweat, and tears in order to have this month and it is long overdue that they have the necessary recognition that they deserve. As a culture, we should want to contribute to this long lineage of successes and history and one day contribute to making this world a better place. Are you doing your part?