There’s Nothing Wrong With Acknowledging Black History Month

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Another February is upon us and it is once again time to celebrate Black History Month. This commemoration, which finds its origin in the early 20th Century, has been cherished by Americans all over the country.


Unfortunately, in 2023, the nation has become so polarized that even Black History Month is viewed as a political issue, which is a clear deviation from what it was truly intended. On the far left, some take the opportunity to use the celebration to further reaffirm a victimhood narrative for black Americans. They use it to perpetuate the narrative that America is a hopelessly racist nation that requires a complete overhaul carried out by the government.

But on the right, too many insist that Black History Month is no longer necessary and should not exist. I’ve seen many conservatives – black, white, and otherwise – criticize the celebration. However, the vast majority of negative comments about the month are predicated on misconceptions about what Black History Month actually means.

This is why right-leaning influencers and outlets are promoting a video featuring actor Morgan Freeman talking about why he thinks BHM is “ridiculous.”

I’ll just say it: Morgan Freeman is wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating Black History Month.

Before I address the criticisms, I figured it would be best to explain the origins of the celebration.

In 1915, about 50 years after slavery was abolished in the United States, a historian named Carter G. Woodson collaborated with minister Jesse E. Moorland to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The organization’s role was to research and promote significant accomplishments made by black Americans.


Given how Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, probably one of the most racist individuals to occupy the White House, was trying to erase these feats from the record, one could see how Woodson, a Republican, would seek to insert these facts into the record. As time went on, cities began issuing annual declarations acknowledging “Negro History Week.” By the late 1960s, the celebration evolved into Black History Month.

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. He urged the nation to “Seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

One of the complaints I have seen conservatives make about BHM is that it is “woke,” which has become a term highly favored on the right to describe opinions on race that they don’t like. Sure, the progressive version of woke is annoying – and destructive when drawn out to its logical conclusion.

But when you know the history of the celebration, it is difficult to describe it as “woke.” Progressivism focuses almost exclusively on the oppression black people have experienced in America while downplaying or ignoring the ways in which African Americans have overcome the obstacles placed in front of them by the government and society at large.

On the other hand, BHM is meant to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions black Americans have made to the formation and evolution of the American experiment. This is the complete antithesis of what the wokies choose to focus on as they are more concerned with what happened to black people than with how black folks can, and have, conquered these obstacles.


I have also seen some intimate that BHM focuses too heavily on slavery and Jim Crow and promotes a “white man bad” narrative. But again, learning about the history of black achievements must mention the evils African Americans overcame, otherwise, we cannot fully fathom the gravity of what these folks were facing in the past. It seems to me that people who take the view that slavery and Jim Crow are mentioned too much are having their viewpoints shaped by the hard left, which certainly uses this history to promote an agenda.

The problem is that too many conservatives have a tendency to let progressives control how they think. If the far left uses BHM to promote their divisive narratives, conservatives seem to have a knee-jerk reaction and demonize the celebration rather than the people exploiting it. Just because the left might use this history to advance an agenda does not mean the history itself is bad. It’s like blaming a gun for committing homicide.

That brings me to my last point. There seems to be an impression on the right that celebrating Black History Month is somehow divisive because it supposedly involves skin color. Indeed, GB News’ Calvin Robinson posted a tweet last October making this argument:

Black History Month makes no sense.

We teach British history, European history, world history.

We do not segregate history based on skin colour, nor should we.

The idea is divisive. Why black history? Why not Chinese/Indian/Arab history?



The problem with this summation of BHM is that it is not based on skin color. Rather, it is based on lineage and culture. The skin color is only a subproduct of this issue. Whether we like it or not, black people who descend from African slaves have a uniquely rich history and culture in this country that might not have existed had chattel slavery never happened in America. There should be nothing divisive about recognizing the historical accomplishments of the folks who come from that history.

Indeed, Freeman is correct when he points out that black history is American history, which is why there is no reason why it can’t be recognized as such. The fact of the matter is that most schools are not teaching about the contributions of Mum Bett, who sparked the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts and paved the way for the ending of the “peculiar institution” in America. There are no mentions of Bass Reeves, a bonafide badass who came from slavery to become one of the most prolific law enforcement officers in American history. Even further, where are the teachings about James Armistead, who was instrumental in helping the colonists defeat the British Crown?


Even if public schools wished to teach more comprehensively about black contributions to the nation’s history, they couldn’t. This is why I have no problem with having a time of the year to look more deeply at how blacks have shaped this country.

But even further, I have no issue with recognizing the contributions of Latinos, Asians, Jews, and anyone else who made an impact on America. In fact, the more we recognize these achievements in which Americans overcame overwhelming odds to make a difference, the more we see what has made this a great nation.


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