Time to end Black History Month?

Should Black History Month itself fade into history?

Many have long argued that African-American history should be incorporated into year-round education. Now, claims that Black History Month is outdated are gaining a new potency, as schools diversify

Should Black History Month itself fade into history?

Many have long argued that African-American history should be incorporated into year-round education. Now claims that Black History Month is outdated are gaining a new potency, as schools diversify their curricula and President Barack Obama’s election opens a new chapter in the nation’s racial journey.

“If Obama’s election means anything, it means that African-American history is American history and should be remembered and recognized every day of the year,” says Stephen Donovan, a 41-year-old lawyer.

Ending “paternalistic” observances like Black History Month, Donovan believes, would lead to “not only a reduction in racism, but whites more ready and willing and able to celebrate our difference, enjoy our traditions, without feeling the stain of guilt that stifles frank dialogue and acceptance across cultures.”

Yemesi Oyeniyi, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mother, says that Black History Month feels like it’s only for Blacks, “and therefore fails to educate the masses of nonblacks.”

“I mean, now there is a Hispanic History Month and quite honestly I haven’t paid more attention to the history of Spanish-speaking Americans any more now than I have in the past,” she says. “I think it all should be taught collectively — every month.”

The Black historian Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week in 1926, seeking to build self-worth in an oppressed people, preserve a marginalized subject and prove to a nation steeped in racism that children of Africa played a crucial role in modern civilization.

Woodson chose February because it contained the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, which belies long-standing jokes about Black History Month being relegated to the shortest month of the year. Woodson’s organization, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, expanded the observance to a full month in 1976.

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