Time To End Black History Month

It’s time to stop imposing a separate black history upon Americans. Black History Month divides society racially by highlighting a separate systematic account of what happened in the lives and development of Americans with African blood as opposed to the lives of Americans without African ancestry. Black History Month is the manifestation of a reconstructed Jim Crow, the intellectual equivalent to the “Negro or Colored Pages” published by white newspapers during the era of racial segregation.

Black History Month generates needless controversy within our society. On one side are Americans who believe that we should set aside this time for celebrating the historic accomplishments, traditions, and heritage of African Americans. On the other side, there is an increasing number of Americans who oppose Black History Month. Opponents say a separate celebration for Black history during February ¼ the shortest month in the year¼ trivializes over 30 million Americans and the historic achievements of their ancestors.

The simplest way to resolve America’s dilemma over Black History Month is to integrate and teach black history as American history. This would eliminate Government’s divisive political role of mandating a specific month to celebrate black history. Individuals and private institutions would be free to continue celebrating black history just as other groups set aside time to celebrate their heritage. For example, Jewish-Americans celebrate Passover¼ commemorating the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt¼ without government-implied sanctions.

Following the civil rights movement, Black History Month served a vital role during the period of deconstruction of America’s race-hierarchical society. Paradoxically today, it has become an unnecessary barrier to developing and building new nonracial institutions in post-Civil Rights America. Many Americans see continuing efforts to institutionalize Black History Month as misguided. Some say the month-long celebration is myopic¼ a distraction from more important issues of concern to African Americans. Issues like crime, drugs, AIDS, unemployment, education, health care, welfare dependency, housing, and the family are important issues to African Americans. They want their leaders to put these issues on the table.

As issues of concern to African Americans move closer to the margin of the political agenda, voters are beginning to express concern about the effectiveness of their leaders. Voters see Black Politicians are out in force every February. They spend the month garnering votes while lecturing about America’s shameful race-history. Voters tire of politicians who politicize race to get their votes, but are ineffective at solving constituent problems. We must also question the motives of those who opportunistically serve the black community with little or no demonstrative political effectiveness. Whose interest are they serving?

Seduced by the imaginary glamour of holding elective public office during the civil rights movement, African Americans, newly enfranchised by the voting rights act, made a crucial error in political strategy. They opted for creating majority black political districts in order to elect black candidates to political office, rather than electing politicians accountable to their interests without regard to skin color. Today, this obsession with electing black candidates to elective office serves as a barrier to race-economic integration.

Unlike black athletes, who abandoned the old Negro baseball teams after Jackie Robinson desegregated major league baseball, most black voters cannot abandon their homes and communities to integrate ‘big league’ political districts. Many African Americans are immured in a culture of poverty in America’s least desirable political districts. They are there because African American leaders opted for the “black political district” during race negotiations after the civil rights movement.

Native American leaders committed a similar error in the last century. They also refused to integrate existing political institutions. After defeat on the battlefield, Indian leaders opted for the Indian Reservation. They wanted to maintain their own cultural heritage. Today, 1.8 million descendants of those mislead by “wannabe chiefs” remain in poverty on Indian Reservations. They are not there because the government’s use of troops to prevents them from coming off these reservations. They are there because of inept, misguided Indian leadership. Indian leaders working with the government, created a cultural barrier constructed of government entitlements, laced with dependency, poverty, alcoholism and hopelessness.

I fear the consequences if we continue to Balkanize our great country. Ample evidence abounds around the globe attesting to the folly of such social-construction choices. Many voices call for deconstructing Black Political Districts, even the Supreme Court in Reno vs. Shaw fired a warning shot halting North Carolina from drawing a district solely for the purpose of race. In Alabama, Joe Reed, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, a long time proponent of black districts, is in court fighting to maintain the state’s at large system of electing judges to Alabama’s 3 appellate courts. These are good signs. Black History Month has served its purpose. Maybe we can end it before fighting begin.

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Originally Published: 2 March 1994, Montgomery Advertiser
  
© Copyright – 1994 – Major W. Cox and Montgomery Advertiser.

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