01 Feb 2014 An Americentric Thought: Let’s Rebrand “Black History Month” as “American History Month,” by Nadra Enzi
My fellow Americans of all colors and creeds, I have a proposal that probably will offend some and comfort others. It is offered in the spirit of fulfilling the guiding American principle that you see on your money: E pluribus unum — out of many, one.
I propose that we rename the annual February observance known as “Black History Month.” My suggestion for a new name is “American History Month.”
Historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded its precursor, “Negro History Week,” in 1926 at a high point of open racism against American blacks.
It is unquestionable that we blacks, as a race, were substantially written out of American history at the time, and what was said wasn’t very flattering.
The “Negro History Week” observance evolved into a month-long intensive recognition of our race’s contributions to this nation in particular and humanity in general.
Generations of heroic sacrifice on our part and by others interested in our well-being have reloaded the nation today. We are more informed about ourselves now than at any other time in American history.
That’s why I propose we take this February observance and reinvent it as an exploration of how we’ve upgraded as a race of outcasts to citizens.
Our history is American history.
Black History Month partisans will howl heresy!
They’ll say that removing Black History Month’s ethnic focus would rob us of precious self-knowledge.
I counter that if we cannot finally present ourselves as Americans, then all legal efforts toward enfranchisement were in vain.
Quite frankly, the idea of a Black History Month in a post-segregation America smacks of separatism, especially to a population already made to bear the burden of past racism.
Renaming Black History Month would be the final olive branch needed to end a racial cold war between American blacks and whites. This war must end if America is to bury the scourge of large-scale racism forever.
American History Month wouldn’t whitewash the black presence in America. It would welcome the American presence of blacks as finally a full part of her body politic — not as (ironically) self-imposed outcasts a generation after full enfranchisement.
How about, next year, people say, “Happy American History Month!”
Just a thought from your Americentric brother!
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Nadra Enzi is a member of the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21 and a community policing activist in New Orleans. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.