Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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How to Think About Black History Month

Shameless self-promotion. Yours truly gave a lecture on Lincoln’s birthday entitled "The Problem of Black History: Race, Memory, and the American Creed." If interested in the webcast, click away. Here’s the blurb for the event:

Frederick Douglass argued that “The sum of the black man’s misfortunes and calamities are just here: He is everywhere treated as an exception to all the general rules which should operate in the relations of other men.” In light of this, what should we think about Black History Month? What was its original purpose, and has it outlived this purpose? And does it now serve to divide rather than unite America, highlighting racial differences and fostering “identity politics”--where individuals are treated differently depending on their race and not their merit?

Discussions - 3 Comments

Lucas, I think there are two big problems with Black History Month. Properly conceived, the study of Douglass or MLK or topics like slavery are rightly built into the fabric of education and thus do not need a separate month. The other thing is the often pitiful attempt to find the "first" black who did everything, whether some invention, or reducing it to stupidity, as one comic said a long time ago, "The first black man to eat broccoli!" to the sound of a marching band in celebration. That really dumbs down the complex study of a Douglass or MLK, their thought, writings, actions, and race in America.

Well stated Lucas!

Truth be told is that the real Lincoln-Douglas debate was with Fredrick Douglass Will the real Lincoln – Douglass Debate please sta...

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