The debate over whether to continue Black History Month is a provocative one, and the voices calling to end it are coming from some unlikely sources. There are those who have long argued that singling out minority groups perpetuates racial animosity. Others ask “Why is there no white history month?” (A common counter argument to that is “Because every month is white history month.”). But some are raising the question because they think that having a Black History Month “lets us off the hook,” so to speak; with a month set aside to learn about black history, there’s little impetus to incorporate it into U.S. history classes.
That’s the thread chased by filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman, the man behind “More Than A Month,” a documentary exploring the roots of Black History Month and the debate over whether to end it. (The film is screening in D.C. on Feb. 26).
Black History Month began in the 1920s as Negro History Week, the brainchild of D.C.’s Carter G. Woodson. The purpose: to learn about the accomplishments of black Americans and their contributions to society. Tilghman appeared on WAMU 88.5′s The Kojo Nnamdi Show earlier this month when he said that as a child, Black History Month gave him a “sense of empowerment, a sense of pride:”