Holiday abates weight of history
The celebration of Black History Month began Monday, and although it’s supposed to be a time to appreciate the achievements made by black men and women in this country’s history, people need to examine what this month is really all about.
In 1926, Carter Woodson created “Negro History Week” to be recognized during the second week of February as a way to pay homage to the works of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, Black History Month is celebrated to commemorate and honor the many struggles and accomplishments of African-Americans who have played a role in shaping the country.
But there are people who say that confining black history to one month isn’t beneficial and all history should be revisited, regardless of race.
Some have even suggested that the special dedication of a month to a certain race’s history should cease.
Actor Morgan Freeman summed things up best in a Dec. 18, 2005, interview on 60 Minutes.
In response to being asked how stop racism; Freeman said people “(should) stop talking about it.”
Freeman wasn’t suggesting Americans simply discount black history, but instead that he finds it ridiculous to “relegate (black) history to a month.”
Nothing could be more truthful.
When people choose to limit themselves to a limited period of time to focus on and study black history, they easily forget about it throughout the rest of the year. Designating a black history month only serves to reinforce the very segregation that we as a people have strived for centuries to overcome.
The history of other races is just as significant and equally as important.
Despite horrendous suffering, education about Jewish history is severely lacking. More must be done to remember the damage caused to an entire race of people by a tyrannical dictator, and the scars left behind by the millions of people killed in the Holocaust.
Although more than 100,000 people of Japanese heritage were interned in America during World War II, most people don’t understand what led to such drastic actions. The deplorable conditions and rationing of food and other basic necessities within the internment camps is also worth more than just a short evaluation in a textbook.
While the Irish suffered through troubled times, hardly any emphasis in society is placed on learning their history, even though America is home to millions of Irish-Americans, whose ancestors lived through the brutal Irish War of Independence and the Great Famine.
It may not be possible to lift the artificial constraints placed on African-American history without angering some, but we can certainly take a more elaborate look at the chronicles of every race’s history within classrooms and amongst ourselves.
As part of the greatest melting pot in the world, Americans owe it to each other to do so.
Patrick Levy is a communication freshman and may be reached at [email protected]