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Is Black History Month relevant in 2012?

February marks the start of Black History Month in Midtown and across the nation, but some critics call the celebration irrelevant.

Wednesday marked the beginning of Black History Month, a time when the sacrifices and contributions of black Americans throughout history are honored in schools and by the media.

Throughout the month, Midtown Patch will highlight some of the area’s Black History Month events, such as the performance run of "Ruth and the Green Book" at the , Feb. 7-16.

Recommended for ages 9 and up, the production is adapted from Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s book of the same title that chronicles a relatively unknown chapter in Civil Rights history. It follows an African American family as they travel from Chicago to Alabama in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s. After being turned away from hotels, gas stations and restaurants, 8-year-old Ruth and her parents are introduced to "The Green Book," a travel guide for black motorists conceived as a response to the humiliation and violence experienced by African Americans while traveling.

Is Black History Month relevant in 2012?

 

Black History Month got its start as Negro History Week in 1926 when an educator named Carter G. Woodson set out to recognize black history’s important role in the American story. Fifty years later, Negro History Week became Black History Month.

But now, more than 85 years after the first celebration of black history, some critics argue that Black History Month is no longer relevant. On her Huffington Post blog, Akilah Bolden-Monifa called it a “farce” and argued that advertisers and book publishers have commercialized the celebration to boost sales of everything from books to liquor.

“Black History Month has become a ready-made excuse to ignore African-American history and contributions for the other 11 months of the year,” Bolden-Monifa said. “It's little more than a bone to throw to us.”

Black History Month is richly celebrated in Atlanta at contests, galas and film festivals, but would Woodson recognize the 2012 celebration of black history? Or has his goal of recognizing black contributions to history been elevated to a reminder that racism and prejudice should have no place in today’s America?

Robert Miller February 03, 2012 at 01:09 PM
It's very relevant. It should stay.
Hunt Archbold (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
We agree to agree...
Marc Acampora February 03, 2012 at 01:35 PM
It is relevant in that it perpetuates racial divisiveness, as does black beauty pageants, the society of black engineers, etc. All races contributed to American history and preservation of unique cultures is important. But, by perpetuating voluntarily-racially-segregated institutions, we continue to emphasize our differences along racial lines, and I'm not convinced that that is a good thing.
Janita Poe February 03, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Marc, These institutions reflect where we are in society. For instance, black beauty pageants.... Do you think white America (even black America) values black, female beauty the way that it does white, female beauty? I can tell you, without question, it does not. Therefore, some black Americans have responded by uplifting black women in a pageant that uplifts their beauty (the original focus of beauty pageants, even though they now include other elements....).
ChadK February 03, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I agree with Marc. How can we be equal AND separate? And I'm sorry Janita, there have been plenty of gorgeous black women that have won Ms. Universe and graced the covers of countless magazines. Not to mention television, film, etc... (I personally think Yaya DaCosta is one of the most beautiful women on the planet). I question your "without question".
Janita Poe February 03, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Marc and Chad, If white America (and black America) valued black women the way they do white women and, to a lesser degree, other races you would see just as many black women selected as wives and mothers of children by men with the means to start a family as other the other groups. If America valued black women as much, you would see just as many white men in Hollywood marrying black women as they do white women and, to a lesser degree, other races. Some studies claim 70 percent of black women are single. I think that may be high but it does point out the problem.... My point: Changes begins with actions, not words. If we really come together as human people the need/desire for segregated institutions—those that give others a chance for recognition—will, naturally, shut down.
Judy Rayford February 04, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Making Black History during the month of Feburary is important. Accepting that our history filtered through anyone else is not to the advantage of Black children. First, history would be to take back Black education, economics, and housing. Second, allow our children to work and develop. There is more than enough money in Black hands why continue to allow a lyncher system to determine our children's social standing, educational and economic standing
ChadK February 06, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Janita, To judge equality by who's single is just silly. You essentially just said "If you want to make the world a better place, marry a black woman." I do see you're point in that there are people who don't see beauty in all it's forms, colors and sizes. And to that degree... I couldn't agree with you more.
Janita Poe February 06, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Hi Chad, The problem is that some white Americans want to argue that there is no need for black colleges, black beauty pageants and the like but, at the same time, they (consciously or not) embrace the idea that they are superior. You can marry whomever you like but please don't try to say that race no longer matters and then turn around and, in your actions, demonstrate that it does. The evidence of racism is in the actions of the ethnic group with the power. And one of the best ways to determine just where people stand is to look at whom the men (the "hunters") value and pursue as wife and mother of their children. This is all old hat to black women because we are receivers of discrimination from other races and even some black men (not all, though, some definitely choose/prefer black women). My viewpoint seems odd to you because this is not something you deal with; it’s something you never reflect on…. BTW, for the record: Black women are not out here pining for white men. Most of us want a traditional black union and prefer black men. But we are well aware of where we fit in this interracial America you and Marc advocate and we don't like it.... Just because you don't believe or get what I am saying does not make it true...

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