LEE A. DANIELS
(NNPA)—I have a rule about this month. If it’s February, I know that somebody somewhere has given an interview or written an article declaring America no longer needs Black History Month.
And, sure enough, the conservative National Review Online of February 4 has given us the article of one Charles W. Cooke. Its title is succinct — “Against Black History Month: This month is Black History Month. Let’s hope it’s the last.”
That snarky comment is revealing, isn’t it? Even if you’re opposed to Black History Month, no one would credibly think there’s any chance that this month’s, or next year’s, or the year after that’s, or … you get the picture … would be the last Black History Month American society commemorates? It’s not a serious comment, of course, and it indicates we’re not going to get a logical argument from Cooke.
But then, that’s not entirely Cooke’s fault. That’s because there is no logical argument against commemorating Black History Month. Indeed, now it’s more important than ever that we plumb the facts and complexities of African-American history.
This is not a matter of “segregating” American history into racial and ethnic enclaves. It is a matter of acquiring a fuller understanding of American history by not pretending that considering American history primarily through that of White Americans is the only approach that counts. Indeed, it’s clear that Carter G. Woodson, the great scholar who established Negro History Week in 1926, had two goals in mind. One was to enable African-Americans to see that Blacks had a rich history before their capture and transport to the Americas; and that pursuing the truth of the Black experience in America was the only way to construct an America worthy of its ideals.