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Americans Divided Over Black History Month February 21, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, African-American, African-American history, American History, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Black, Black History, Black History Month, Black History Month Poll, Blacks, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Frederick Douglass, Harvard, Jon Stewart, Morgan Freeman, Negro History Week, Racism, Racist, The Daily Show.
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It’s February, and the annual debate has begun. The subject of Black History Month becomes the centerpiece of many a water-cooler conversation.

A poll of almost 10,000 Americans conducted in January shows there is no consensus on the topic of Black History Month. The survey, conducted by MSN and Zogby International, found that 43 percent of Americans believe setting one month of the year to focus on a racially defined observance is a token gesture, while 39 percent say that is an opportunity to raise awareness of African-American history and accomplishments (18 percent are not sure).

Also see: MSN-Zogby Black History Month poll results

Is it a valuable and necessary way for African-American history—an essential part of American history—to be offered to the public?

Or is it, as one scholar wrote in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, “simply a guilt-driven public relations scam to pacify blacks who otherwise receive no attention on the bread and butter issues of education, jobs, and health care?”

African-Americans have varying opinions on the issue, too. The poll found that 28 percent feel that dedicating only February to black history is a token gesture. Celebrities Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby have spoken out against it. “I don’t want a black history month,” Freeman said on 60 Minutes. “Black history is American history.” Comedians Chris Rock and Dick Gregory have made jokes about it. Recently, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart did a riff on the debate over Black History Month.

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