“Our Way—To Say—Thank You”

Over the years there has been a myriad of explanations why there should be a Black History Month. There have been just as many criticisms of the celebration. Most critics will argue that Black history need not be acknowledged only one month out of the year, but instead should be recognized every day of the year. One of the leading opponents is Morgan Freeman who calls Black History Month ridiculous. “You’re not going to relegate my history to a month,” he said in a 2005 interview on Sixty Minutes. “I don’t want a Black History Month,” he continued. “Black history is American history.


According to Freeman’s thinking, Dr. John Hope Franklin’s extensive research and publication From Slavery to Freedom was an exercise in futility, as was Lerone Bennett Jr.’s Before the Mayflower. Both books concentrate on the history of Blacks in this country. These two scholarly men recognized that the dearth of information on Black people, found in the history books and novels, was reason enough to write on the subject. It is arguable that Franklin’s and Bennett’s works brought to light a great deal of our history, not covered in the more traditional books.

However, let me offer additional reasons why we celebrate Black History Month.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to our ancestors who were captured and thrown into dungeons in their homeland of Africa, and forced out through the “Door of no Return” into the holes of slave ships, piled atop each other for an average of a three month trip in the middle passage.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to our ancestors who landed on the shores of this country and faced an unbelievable evil in a strange country, among strange talking and looking people.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to our ancestors who endured over four hundred years of oppression at the hands of oppressors who had the unmitigated arrogance to consider themselves masters.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to our ancestors who confronted an apartheid system of abuse to include lynching of our men, raping of our women and denial of equal opportunity, but still they hung on, fought back, and brought us up the rough side of the mountain so that men like Morgan Freeman could benefit from their sacrifice.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to the greatest generation of freedom fighters the world has ever known, who took on an organized force of violent resistance in a peaceful and nonviolent manner and won.

It is: “Our Way—To Say—Thank You,” to the writers, painters, sculptors, poets, musicians and athletes who have excelled in the performance of their particular art and sport, and as a result helped create and sustain one of the finest cultures, known as the African American Culture, in the entire world.

Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Black History Week (extended to month in 1976) elaborated in the following statement his reasoning; “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

Need I say or write more in defense of Black History Month? Dr. Woodson’s explanation is sufficient reason for continuing the tradition he began back in 1926.

2 thoughts on ““Our Way—To Say—Thank You”

  1. Chris Pittard

    I agree with Freeman that Black history is a part of American history. However, until our history is taught as a part of American history we need a celebration of our history and accomplishments. Black History Month needs to be observed so that we never forget…

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