Students Ponder Relevance, Necessity of Black History Month

Students’ opinions of Black History Month raise question of its future


A twitter poll shows how some Shaker students feel about Black History Month

To keep it short and sweet, Black History Month is simply just a month of black history. But to some, it’s much more than that.

Senior Antonio Gonzalez thinks that Black History Month in our country is vital. “It’s a time to acknowledge our past seeing as though we have to acknowledge someone else’s every other day of the year.”  

Another student at Shaker agrees with Gonzalez, but wishes to stay anonymous. “I think it’s a much-needed remembrance of the atrocities that whites, and others, committed against African Americans. And it’s also a month to honor and praise how strong and resilient the African Americans culture is.”

And to others, Black History Month has done more harm than good.

Class of 2013 graduate and Sankofa Adviser Steve Mullen does not feel as positive about the month as the two Shaker students. “It’s a crutch! Why is it only important for 29 days a year? What privilege does it give how close does it actually bring us together? We should remember and make people remember where we came from daily.”

A Black History Month Banner displayed in the Eli Gallery as of Feb. 22, 2016, the first day of ‘Black History Month Spirit week’

It is unfortunate that BHM is during the shortest month of February, but that is not the reason. According to the NAACP, Carter G. Woodson proclaimed February Black History Month in honor of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is merely coincidental.

Another student who wished to stay anonymous offered another view. “Black history month means nothing to me because I am not black. It’s just another month to me.” The student also said the annual month-long observation is not necessary. “From what I see, MLK hoped that one day people would look past race, with black history month you’re kind of like segregating yourself. It’s like self segregation. It shouldn’t be celebrated one month of the year, it should be celebrated every month of the year.”

Senior Max Markey expressed a more balanced opinion, he understands why black history is in place, but hopes to progress forward with inclusivity of all. “We have never recognized as a society the achievements of blacks in America. I think that Black history month has become a problem though.” Max believes that black history month should be a placeholder until we can figure out how to integrate black history into American history.

With the recent uproar about the month, including Stacey Dash, an actress and former black idol, going on Fox News and calling the month and other black-dominated things like certain award shows, tv shows and magazines out, the true meaning for Black History Month is lost. According to CNN, Dash wrote “I don’t need a special month or special channel. What’s sad is that these insidious things only keep us segregated and invoke false narratives.”

The only point we all should understand about black history month regardless of our personal opinion is that it was created as an urgent request to acknowledge black excellence. Good or bad, without it we wouldn’t know much about black history because the teachings would have been lost. Black History Month forces us to recognize the backstory of black people in America because it was once not recognized at all.

In terms of moving forward as a whole, Max Markey sums it up. “If we want to really reach the proverbial mountaintop and have true equality, we can’t be satisfied by this; we can’t stop moving forward and progressing, but we also can’t put the cart in front of the horse.”

Happy Black History Month.

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