Black History Month: Did you miss it?

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It is the shortest month of the year, so you might have missed it, even if you were paying attention.

It is the shortest month of the year, so you might have missed it, even if you were paying attention.

February is winding down, marking the end of the annual celebration known as Black History Month.

But have you noticed, that while Carter G. Woodson came up with Negro History Week 80 years ago, the “history” part of the observance is starting to become less and less important?

Oh, we still get 28 days of Rosa Parks (mother of the civil rights movement) and Granville T. Woods (the Black Edison) and even Hiram Revels (first Black U.S. Senator). We still see the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for each of the 28 days of the month, and we sing "Lift Every Voice" at every event (at least the first verse, and we mumble the second and third).

But Black History Month has morphed into a kind of Black Heritage Month, with everything and anything related to Black people dumped into these two fortnights, and increasingly, it has nothing to do with history.

Television stations do stories about prominent Black businessmen and prominent elected officials. Newspapers rush to tell the stories of Black community activists and Black celebrities.

Even worse is that Black History Month has started to become “Black Month,” and simply mentioning Black people, or including a Black face, is enough to satisfy the “Black” quotient for the month. For some businesses, it is enough to have a mattress sale or a “white sale” to celebrate the month.

The problem, of course, is that for the other 11 months, Black is not a color of the rainbow. For every month but February, there is scant mention of anything Black.

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Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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