Central Standard
1:36 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Should Black History Month Exist?

On this Wednesday's Central Standard, a look at a documentary that argues that Black History is American History.

We'll speak with documentary director Shukree Tilghman, who visited cities across the country with one message: End Black History Month. His film is called More than a Month: One Man's Quest to End Black History Month.

We'll also be joined by UMKC History Professor Pellom McDaniels III, who was featured in the film. He studied  Carter G. Woodson, a creator of the original Negro History Week. Later in the hour, we will welcome his students Lawrence Stitt and Elizabeth Bartels to tell us about an exhibit they helped create as part of a semester long public history course focused on the history of African American life in Kansas City from 1914 - 1918.

CARTER G. WOODSON

Knowledge is a powerful tool, and Carter G. Woodson knew it. Woodson, the child of two freed slaves from the Reconstruction era, would go on to become one of the key publishers and proponents of black history.

Woodson’s coming of age coincided with a burgeoning trend in America that labeled racism as “scientific.” His own passion for education and his realization of the stories left untold by African Americans led him to publish the popular Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin. Much of Woodson’s philosophy on the importance of creating a black canon of history was to account for the “systematic omission of contributions made by people of African American descent to the growth of the United States.” He believed the historical inaccuracies and ignorance of African Americans were partly to blame for poor race relations.

Woodson went on to found Negro History Week, which would eventually go on to become Black History Month—a platform for people of all races and cultural backgrounds to discuss black experience.

Woodson is the subject of The Mind of Carter G. Woodson: As Reflected in the Books He Owned, Read, & Published, authored by our guest Dr. Pellom McDaniels.

SEE THE FILM:
UMKC and KCPT are teaming up to offer a special screening of “More than a Month” on Saturday, February 11th at 11am at Tivoli Theater. The film will also be aired on KCPT February 16th at 10pm.

GIVE AN EXHIBIT A HOME:
Bar-B-Que, Baseball & Jazz: African American History and Life in Kansas City, Missouri, 1914-1938 has been taken down at the UMKC Libraries NEW Dean’s Gallery. Know of a good home for it? Shoot us an e-mail.

WHAT YOU TOLD US:
We've compiled your e-mails and comments from this show.

Rick agreed that history was lacking in Black History Month: “In the 70’s and 80’s Black History Month also emphasized African History.  As a youth worker I knew 10-year-olds who could talk about the great Kings of Africa.  These kids had pride.”

Alexander thought if the month was ended, there should be a different focus : “I would suggest 'Learn History, It Is Important 'Month'" because of the lack of political emphasis on history as a valued and essential part of the educational curriculum.”

Rudolph sees the value in Black History Month: “For the culture that is not African –American, it is important to them to understand at least some of the contributions made by African-Americans. We all need to understand.” 

Gaby mentioned the importance of other ongoing civil rights movements: “Dr. King and Mrs. King both spoke of not only black civil rights but LGBT civil rights too. Mrs. King said we must fight for everyone's civil rights including the gay community because "none of us are free until all of us are free".  This fact is largely ignored by today's African American civil rights leaders.”

Beth suggested a multi-targeted approach: “I would use the “month” to stress healthy cooking, living, exercise.  Support and participate in the arts events which very often have black artists, singers, musicians in many major venues.”

Brent suggested listeners take a look at some information on the month: “We have been producing a set of local Black history posters and booklets for the past three years as a community service.This project has been a partnership with the Kansas City Library and the Black Archives.”

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