By Michael E. Ross Reporter
msnbc.com
updated 3/1/2006 2:54:11 PM ET 2006-03-01T19:54:11

With passion and insight, MSNBC.com's readers have weighed in on whether the nation still needs Black History Month.

Actor Morgan Freeman reignited a simmering debate in December when he called the concept of a month dedicated to black history “ridiculous.”

“I don't want a black history month,” Freeman said.” “Black history is American history.”

Scholars and authors interviewed by MSNBC.com clashed on the issue. Some called the February observance a vital reminder of everything African Americans have contributed to the nation. Others said the observance reinforces the segregation it was meant to counteract.

Thousands of readers also expressed their feelings. Some of their responses follow:

Lacrista Parker, Orem, Utah: “I think so, because every year we hear the same stories, and see the same documentaries and movies, and nothing new. What will Black History be for the next generation?? Rappers who get shot and glorify bling-bling? Who will be the next Malcolm X or MLK for the next generation? I think we need to focus on leaving a more honorable legacy for our children, and their children!

William Epps, Los Angeles: “No. Until our history is accurately represented in the shaping and development of American and our contributions fully acknowledged and recognized we need to continually remind people of who we are and what we have done.”

A reader in Houston: “Yes, it is time to get rid of any racial history month. This country has gone so ‘politically correct’ it is crazy. We don't have ‘White History Month.’ I am from Houston, Texas. Here the whites are a minority, but if we had ‘White History Month’ it would be declared racial. Let's be truly politically correct & get rid of all of the History Months and just be people.

FREEMAN
Aaron Harris  /  AP
Actor Morgan Freeman reignited the debate over the relevance of Black History Month.
Linda Gibson, Jackson, Miss.: “No. We should not retire Black History Month. Black history is taught as American History in the schools' curriculum. My two daughters say that they only learn of blacks contributions to America [is] during Black History Month.”

Matthew Ross, Jefferson City, Mo: “At this point, the separation of history into ‘black history’ and whatever you wish to call the remainder of history only serves to maintain a rift between races. How are we equal if we treat African American historical figures as if they were so unimportant that we need to set aside time to consider them? The approach should be integration into mainstream history education. If ‘separate but equal’ was wrong in everything else, why are we preserving it in how we teach history?”

Lamont of St. Louis, Mo.: “Absolutely not! As an African American, I'm elated that we have an entire month to recognize in a national public forum the trials and tribulations of blacks in America, and their contributions to building a great nation. For many others and me this is a celebration of freedom and accomplishment.”

Leonard A. Penn, Pittsburgh, Pa.: “Yes, it should be integrated into American history. It is on the backs of blacks that this country was founded. Our youth of America should not have to go outside the learning institutions to learn this history.”

Christopher Hamm, Kirksville, Mo: “I do not think it's time to retire Black History Month. ... until you can learn about the contributions of African Americans in “regular” classes, then events that draw attention to these contributions are, sadly, still necessary.”

Sharalee Sellers, Vancouver, Wash.: “Unfortunately, Black History Month is still necessary. The day our public schools teach our kids about American history as a whole will be the day it is no longer needed. I have a 13-year-old son who told me last February that his school doesn't teach about any other African Americans besides MLK and Rosa Parks. ... Racism will continue in our country until we destroy the ignorance that creates it.”

Douglas L. Spellman, Fort Worth, Texas: “Absolutely not. Until there is real equality in all phases of the American way of life then there is a need. If you can go to an index in any book and find Black Americans who have contributed in that field then there is no need but until then there is a need for Black History Month. I can understand Mr. Freeman's desire but it is not yet a reality.”

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