By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
Is black history separate but equal?
Black leaders not only say it should be, they also advocate a system of segregation against which their parents and grandparents fought. It’s been 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that the decades-old Jim Crow of “separate but equal” was a travesty to American justice, yet the old saw lives on in the ghost of Black History Month.
The month grew out of Black History Week, which itself is a product of Jim Crow-black scholar Carter G. Woodson initiated the second week of February 1926 because it coincided with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1926, the need for special recognition existed. By 1976, when the week was expanded into a month, the need was vanishing.
No need exists now.
Some will posit, “The barbarism of slavery demands a special recognition.”
Certainly the atrocities committed against black Africans and black Americans through the slave trade, segregation and civil rights struggle deserve a voice. As do the atrocities committed against American- Indians, Catholics, Jews, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Japanese.
Not all of these were enslaved, but Americans robbed the Indians of their land, turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, persecuted Catholicism and its Irish and Italian adherents for decades, forced the Chinese into slave-labor and falsely imprisoned the Japanese in World War II.
None deserves further segregation-instead, America’s egregious history should be told at the same time as students learn about the Constitution, which all southern states would have rejected had it not stated that a black man only counted as three-fifths a person.
The year possesses only 12 months-too short a time for the long list of those ethnic minorities oppressed and abused by the United States.
Others will argue, in a tired mantra, “The other 11 months are White History months.”
The circular reasoning should be evident-Black History Month is just as much the cause of this academic segregation as it is the result.
In 1926, a need existed. In 2004, a problem has resulted.
High school teachers and college professors plan elaborate field trips to sites of importance relating to civil rights or slavery; rearrange their curricula to discuss black issues; and redecorate their classrooms, removing the WASPs for a time-all in February.
America’s students should not learn in such a segregated system. They deserve a well-rounded history, one that talks about the Buffalo Soldiers at the same time as the Civil War. They should not learn in a system that shoves black military accomplishments into a month already crammed with black political, medical, scientific and social accomplishments-on top of the broader issues of slavery, segregation and civil rights.
Yet the quest to place equal emphasis on black history does not exist in the black community; its leaders emphasize the month, despite its inherently discriminatory nature.
“Separate but equal” should have died in 1954. Yet it thrives in modern academia, in part because black leaders insist on feeding it.
America’s students and black history deserve better than Black History Month.