Black History Month: A sampling of views

By Demorris A. Lee, Times staff writer
Published February 27, 2008

Since 1926, black Americans have set aside the month of February to spotlight their achievements and those of their ancestors. This practice evolved into the annual observance of Black History Month. Teachers use the month to introduce students to the accomplishments of leaders such as Thurgood Marshall, the first black man to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, and civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do people who aren't black acknowledge Black History Month once they leave school? How do they feel about a month solely dedicated to the history of black Americans? We decided to ask a few. Here's what they told us:

I'm very much in support of it. All history in our country from all different cultures and nationalities is important to think about on a regular basis. It brings a lot of thoughts to the forefront when you think about it. The progress that blacks have made in the last 20, 30 years is a very strong part of our economy and country. I don't know if it has to be a month, a week. ... But I've enjoyed watching a lot of the black history, black awareness programs that have been on PBS.

Dave Eldridge, 67, Sand Key

I feel Black History Month is a good thing. I remember back in school we learned some but not a whole lot. Is it necessary? Sure. That's when I learned a lot of my black history because I didn't learn it in school. I've lived in Florida my whole life and went to a mainly black school, Carver Middle School in Leesburg, Florida, and it's kind of weird that they didn't teach much. I went to a more mixed high school and there was a lot of racial tension. I know a lot of people who have a problem with it. Some guys I work with say it's really not Black History Month, and there's a Miss Black America pageant, why can't there be a Miss White America pageant? To each their own. That kind of talk doesn't really interest me. I'm fine with it.

Robert Linville, 33, Palm Harbor

* * *

I recognize the importance of role models and of pride in your own background and ancestry. I know what it means to me to hear wonderful things about my Scottish ancestry. I recognize how important it is for children to see themselves in books and know some pride and what is possible for them in the future. It's very important and necessary.

Geri Collard, 72, Flint, Mich., visiting Clearwater Beach