There aren’t many people in Hollywood who could call Black History Month ‘ridiculous’ without receiving a ton of hate mail, but that’s exactly what Morgan Freeman did back in 2005- and he managed to back up his controversial words with some very thought-provoking ideas about racial equality.
The Hollywood legend was being interviewed by Mike Wallace for CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ news magazine program when he was asked his opinion on the concept of Black History Month. But Morgan Freeman- arguably one of the greatest and most respected black actors of all time- wasn’t playing ball.
After branding the idea ‘ridiculous’, Freeman asks a pretty good rhetorical question: “What- you’re going to relegate my history to a month?”
Wallace doesn’t know what to make of this comment, but Freeman’s not done with him yet.
“What do you do with yours?” the actor asks his host, getting more pissed by the minute with Wallace’s line of questioning. “Which month is White History Month?” he demands. “Come on, tell me.”
Wallace replies that he’s Jewish, to which Freeman hits back: “Ok. Which month is Jewish History Month?” Wallace is forced to admit there isn’t one, and he tells Freeman he wouldn’t really want that kind of commemoration anyway.
“I don’t either,” Freeman tells him matter-of-factly. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
At this point, Wallace tries to rescue the increasingly awkward interview by asking: “How are we going to get rid of racism and…”
Which is where Freeman cuts him off in style, coming out with this (now-famous) quote:
Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You want to say,`Well, I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.’ You know what I’m saying?”
It’s hard to argue with this kind of logic. We humans are always banging on about eliminating our differences and striving for equality, but here’s the thing: If we are all equal- which we are- why do we even need to mention skin color?
But others would say it’s not that simple. As long as the injustice of cops (literally) getting away with the murder of young black men continues, as long as Afro-Americans are discriminated against on a daily basis, and as long as the income inequality between black and white Americans paints a picture of a divided nation, we can’t pretend race isn’t an issue.
Black History Month began life as ‘Negro History Week,’ which was organized by historian Carter G. Woodson back in 1926. Woodson believed that teaching black history was vital to the survival of black culture, saying:
If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”
So was Woodson right, or does Morgan Freeman win this debate? Let us know what you think- please share this video and comment below!
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