What does February mean to you? Lincoln? Washington? Generic Presidents? Black History Month?

When I was growing up, February boasted Lincoln’s birthday (February 16 12) and Washington’s birthday (February 22).  When I was no longer a child, those two distinct birthdays — one celebrating America’s first commander in chief and first president, and the other one celebrating the architect of our modern union and the leader of the war against slavery — got merged into one holiday that is celebrated on the Monday closest to Washington’s birthday, and that rejoices under the generation appellation of “President’s Day.”  Ostensibly, the day honors both Lincoln and Washington, but that amorphous title leaves one wondering whether Jimmy Carter is parading around his house declaring to Rosalynn “This is my day too.”

As the parent of two school-age children, I can tell you that President’s Day has absolutely nothing to do with any presidents, whether Washington, Lincoln or (thankfully) Carter.  Instead, to the extent there’s something out there called “President’s Day,” it’s just a hinge for a weekend’s or week’s worth of skiing.  (Or if snow isn’t your thing, Florida is nice at this time of year.)

What February is really about, at least as far as our schools are concerned, is Black History Month.  I don’t like Black History Month, but not for the reason those always hunting for racism might assume.  I don’t like it because I don’t believe in hyphenating Americans.  I don’t believe in allocating a month here or a month there to those who represent our nation’s highest aspirations or to those who demonstrate the greatness of American individualism.  I find something creepy about relegating black greatness to the shortest month of the year.  If you’re a great American, you’re a great American, irrespective of your skin color.  Every single day of the year, our children should be celebrating those Americans who contributed to our nation, contributions that ought not to be bounded by skin-color or relegated to specific months for official recognition.

Black History Month isn’t a celebration of the contributions black people have made to America.  Instead, it’s a continuation of segregation in America, only with a pretty gloss.

Although it’s a silly holiday, Black History Month pretty much defines February.  That’s why I have something peculiar to relate about a store at my local mall.  It’s a children’s clothing store called Peek.  As best as I can tell, it’s a very nice clothing store, catering to people who don’t feel the need to dress their children like hoods or rock stars.  Don Quixote and I often stroll by it when we have lunch at the mall.

The other day, the first time we passed Peek, something about the window display struck me as being  . . . not “off,” but discordant.  On our second pass by the store, I figured out what was so unusual:  the window display honored Lincoln and Washington.  Rather than pictures of the great Booker T. Washington, there were pictures of George Washington.  And in place of the ubiquitous Maya Angelou, there was a book about Abe Lincoln.  Between the age-appropriate children’s clothes, and the homage to Presidents Washington and Lincoln, the window looked as if it was a temporal escapee from 1970.

I’ll leave you with Allen West’s fascinating homage to Black History Month:

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Comments

  1. says

    I understand the political reasons for it, but I think it is strange that all the Presidents put together get one day and MLK gets a day all to himself.  Then blacks generally get a whole month in addition to that.  It is creepy that the month is February.  If you are going to do black history month (and you shouldn’t, but if you are) why not make it January, the month we are celebrating MLK anyway?

  2. Caped Crusader says

    When I was growing up we celebrated February 12 as Lincoln’ birthday. But do not feel bad, for in my lifetime I have seen the explanation as to why Tennessee is called the Volunteer State changed 3 times. Strange how historic facts are dynamic, rather than static!

    • says

      Thanks for the gentle reminder, Caped Crusader, about the actual date of Lincoln’s birthday. FWIW, I’m just as bad with the birthdays of the real people in my life. I seem to be missing the “birthday remembering” gene.

  3. Ellen says

    In academia where I reside, next month is Women’s History Month.  As for this month, books about Martin Luther King are flying off the library shelves, but books about Washington are gathering dust.

  4. Libby says

    I dislike Black History Month for the same reasons you do. I was disappointed when I recently read about the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture (opening in 2015). It’s as if there’s no acknowledgement of black Americans in the other Smithsonian museums on the mall (there is) – this is just more segregation.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    Personally, I am outraged that there isn’t a month to celebrate all that has been accomplished by French Vikings. It should be at minimum a national holiday, a day of commemoration whereby people gorge themselves on wine, cheese, beer and lutefisk while composing odes to the wild and randy adventures of hirsute Vikings in the Paris of yore.

  6. says

    Carter G. Woodson, a founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, proposed African-American History Week in 1925 and first celebrated in February 1926. The primary reason February was chosen was because two of the heroes in Black history were born in February – Abraham Lincoln and Frederick  Douglas. Douglas also died in February.

    However, ever since the Lincoln assassination in 1865 and the death of Douglas in 1895, Blacks were already commemorating the achievements of both men in February. Rather than create something from whole cloth, Woodson commandeered the existing February commemoration. The week was originally intended by Woodson to have school children demonstrate what they had learned about African-American history throughout the year, not just what is now taught in one month. The week was officially recognized in 1972 and expanded to a month in 1976.

    An excellent article about the month appears in today’s The Philly Post written by Michael Coard, Why It’s Time to Abolish Black History Month. Coard describes himself as the angriest Black man in America as well as a criminal defense attorney, community activist, and teacher at Temple University.
     

  7. 11B40 says

    Greetings:

    Actually, February, with its tricky spelling (If you say it correctly, you’ll have a better chance of spelling it correctly, or so I’ve been told on more than several occasions.), registers mostly as my father’s birth-month. I don’t know a whole lot about his youth in southwestern Ireland among 13 siblings, but he always seemed so joyful that his birthday would provoke some kind of celebration. Life seems so simple for the blessed.

    Living in the San Francisco Bay area, several soviets south of what the locals refer to as “The City”, the local Progressive (née Public) Broadcasting System stations compel a certain amount of kowtowing to the “Black History Month” (BHM) phenomenon and this year, perhaps in some propagandistic preparation for the upcoming Presidential election, their boogie, in that regard, seems to be on full tilt with many more programs being aired than I seem to remember in previous years. 

    As someone who grew up in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s, the most appalling one that I’ve channel-surfed through so far was on a program called “The History Detectives” but that I refer to, more accurately perhaps, as “The Diversity Detectives”.  The segment dealt with the emergence of one of those “orientations” that no longer qualify as “disorientations”, namely hip-hop “culture”. Now, having been there at that time, it strikes me as more than a bit peculiar that the “Dresden-lite” treatment which large swaths of the Bronx suffered under seems to garner so much less interest as to be nothing less than glossed over.  It has long been one of my intellectual conceits that what happened there and then has little chance of receiving much historical review. The civil rights industry is too firmly entrenched both politically and media-wise for anyone intelligent enough to be an historian to delve into the causes of that unhappy time. Better to focus on the diverse and vibrant hip-hop culture in which only a very small number of artists murder each other and/or their hangers-on. You see, if you don’t appreciate vulgarity, misogyny, “homophobia”, or thug-ism, well I guess you’re just not diverse or multicultural enough yet, so stay tuned, PBS will help you on your journey to personal enhancement.

    As for the comic relief, PBS is broadcasting a program examining William Jefferson Clinton and his presidency. He used to be the “first black president” until his race card got trumped by a half-black from Hawaii and other point east and west.

     

  8. Charles Martel says

    11B40 just said something that got me to thinking. . .
     
    How would the Whore Media react if the GOP ran a candidate who was half-black and half-white? How long would it take before they began whispering the Democrat-invented sneer word “mulatto,” or conveniently forgetting the GOP candidate’s half blackness and focusing entirely on his white side?
     
    I know, I know—asked and answered.

  9. says

    Kali: Hm… I think that would be reserved for “Ragnarok”, if that space station has a few kinetic drop catapults that can conduct kinetic strikes on the planetary surface. If the space station carries a doomsday weapon that can only be used once, then maybe it can be called Sword of Damocles, but technically I’d prefer the Sword of Damocles to be a Core Tap into the Earth’s center, so that if it explodes the plate tectonics will rupture as if a sword cleaved the continents apart. Since most people know of the Sword of Damocles as “hanging” above, that might not work out so well literally.

    Wagner made a little too many embellishments, and gave Ragnarok too long a German name. I think it’ll be over before people even learn how to spell that one, Kali. Really, it’ll be over by then.

     

  10. says

    See, Valkyries get launched from Valhalla to pick up the souls of Einherjar, or worthy warriors, who are taken back to Valhalla, the halls of the brave and dead, to await Ragnarok, the final battle where the gods themselves will extinguish each other.

     So if a nuclear ballistic missile sub launches a few nuclear MIRV missiles and reaps in some souls, to prepare the way for Ragnarok, that would be a perfect attunement process.

     

  11. Charles Martel says

    I would prefer to see the earth end at the hands—er, snout—of the vacuum creature in “Yellow Submarine.” He walked around sucking up everything in sight until there was nothing left except himself. But being thorough, he finished the task by vacuuming himself out of existence.
     
    If we could go out like that, Martian and Jovian parents would have an eternally amazing story to tell their children.

  12. says

    Amazingly enough, I learned most of my Norse from lower educated individuals from America and Japanese story crafting. I did not learn about them from public education. Nor was the Sword of Damocles covered.

    You guys ever wonder why public education never tells people the interesting stuff that could be used for critical thinking. It’s almost as if…
     

  13. DL Sly says

    February is a very special month for me.  That’s when nine years of frustration came to an end with the birth of our daughter.
    As for the Black History Months (remember, October is Black History Month, too) debacle….they’ve always struck me as nothing more than hypocritical lip service.  Same with Women’s History Month and whatever/whoever history month else is out there.  If teachers were truly teaching our children what it is to be Americans, all the women, blacks, Asians (funny how there isn’t an Asian History Month, eh?), Native Americans, etc. etc. would already be included in their education.  However, I realize that this makes sense, so……
    0>;~}

  14. Jose says

    The military, of course, fully supports Black History month activities, usually culminating in a banquet complete with guest speaker.  When on active duty, I was frequently tasked to provide support of one type or another.
     
    One year an event was planned by an organization of black officers.  I was asked to assemble a number of posters displaying the accomplishments of black military members.  My source material was a book with post-its marking the relevant individuals.

    A curious omission was the civil war sergeant who was the first black Medal of Honor recipent.  As an enlisted man, I was unable to resist putting that individual on a poster, and pointing out the omission to the project officer.

    Later I realized the officers group had intentionally narrowed it’s focus to officers only.  I guess even Black History Month has it’s sub divisions

  15. says

    Don’t forget (as if we would be allowed to forget), June is GLBT Celebration month!
     
    As for February, it is special, since it is my birthday month. I have long given myself a whole month, so perhaps I should not complain about Black History month(s), Women’s Month, Green month, whatever.
     
    Ymar, maybe “Niebelungens-Umwälzung ” could be the name of your core tap?

  16. DL Sly says

    How ’bout a compromise?
    You want it on an adult channel, yet it’s a cartoon….how about a month-long, 24 hr marathon on the best adult cartoon channel I can think of……

    wait for it…….

    oh, come on, shirley you already know……

    MSNBC!

    It’ll certainly be the best month of programming they’ve ever had.
    heh
    0>;~}

  17. says

    That’s “exactly” what people think. That they are cartoons. And that’s how they get surprised and hooked. When someone has a low expectation and the result is beyond their imaginations in a positive standard, they get addicted. It’s not like something that’s over hyped and people go watch it (Star Wars I) and it’s a disaster.

    As for Sly’s idea, that might work. Certainly MSNBC is full of cartoon caricatures, so the phase over shouldn’t be that jarring. Only problem is, it will attract so many viewers to MSNBC, and such a draw can be dangerous for the anti-Leftist alliance, as it empowers MSNBC, a Leftist propaganda arm. So I still think it’s better to show it on Fox, that way people can get “hooked” and addicted. Before they know it, they will be celebrating the virtues of courage and other character strengths, rather than sex and alcohol, free condoms and abortions.

    Of course, if somebody manages to buy up MSNBC and purge the Leftists and replace them with Foxy conservative women, then it might be different…

     Jose gave an interesting viewpoint into how humans have prejudices and blind areas. The definition of a blind area is that you are not aware of. Thus fighting it with anti-racist type rhetoric isn’t going to help. The ones you need to deal with, are the ones you are unaware even exists. Humans are tricky that way.

     Flyover: Only if someone else volunteers to explain to the stock holders what that name means.

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