ITVS offers viewers the opportunity to explore the rich and vibrant history and cultural contributions of African Americans throughout the year, but this month we’re offering a special slate of new and encore programs in honor of Black History Month. We recently asked Shukree Tilghman, filmmaker of the ITVS-funded film More Than A Month, to share his thoughts on Black History Month and why he believes it no longer exists. Read his take below.
It’s February, time to take a moment –– or a day or a week or the whole month –– to recognize, honor, and celebrate the unique and multi-faceted history of the African in America.
At least that’s what I thought February was about. Turns out I was wrong.
This seems an appropriate time to mention that I am smack in the middle of making an ITVS-funded documentary film, More Than A Month, which follows me on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month (BHM). Through the lens of this journey, the film takes a critical, and sometimes comedic look at what it means that we have a black history month and what it would mean if we didn’t.
Well, I have some interesting news to report from the field: Black History Month has ended.
I don’t mean it’s March 1, I mean BHM has ceased to exist. That’s right. It’s over. Gone. Caput. I cannot tell you exactly when it ended, but it’s gone. And despite the film and the campaign within –– I didn’t do it (so don’t go pointing the finger at me). But you can follow the journey at morethanamonth.org. Okay, enough shameless plugs. Back to the point.
All evidence that I have collected so far, from “man on the street” interviews, to spending time at a black advertising agency and with BHM planning committees, to attending BHM events, points to a somewhat sudden truth. February is no longer Black History Month. Nope. It’s Black PEOPLE Month… meaning anything that has to with black life and culture is fair game in February. Anything.
Are you a black author? February book tour!
A black designer? February fashion show!
A black out of work actor? Don’t worry. February presents a plethora of opportunities for you, and most of them won’t be historical in nature so you can avoid the awkwardness of playing a “servant.” Well…most of you.
Are you a semi-famous political commentator with a take on racism? CNN has gigs for you, player!