“Morgan Freeman Objects to Term ‘African-American’ and ‘Insulting’ Black History Month”
Morgan Freeman, the legendary actor and Academy Award winner, expressed his objection to the term “African-American” and how he believes it’s an “insult” to limit the teaching of Black history to just one month.
Freeman, who is now 85, was asked about his past comments during a 2005 interview with CBS’s Mike Wallace about how not talking about race might help end racism. Freeman responded, “Two things I can say publicly that I do not like: Black History Month is an insult. You’re going to relegate my history to a month?”
He explained his position by saying that the term “African-American” is also an insult. Freeman doesn’t subscribe to that title because he feels that Black people have had different titles back to the n-word, and he doesn’t understand how the term “African-American” gained such a grip in the culture. According to him, using “African-American” as a catch-all term is problematic because it erases the diverse backgrounds and identities within the Black community.
Freeman elaborated on this point by saying, “Most Black people in this part of the world are mongrels. And you say Africa as if it’s country when it’s a continent, like Europe.” He compared the use of “African-American” to how people of European heritage are often referred to by specific countries, such as Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans, instead of being labeled with a broad, catch-all term.
Freeman’s views on Black History Month are similarly critical. He believes that dedicating just one month to teaching Black history is insulting because it suggests that Black history is separate from American history. For Freeman, Black history is American history, and it should be taught as such year-round.
He also criticized how Black history is often taught in schools. “We’re taught that during Black History Month, we’re supposed to only learn about Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Dr. King,” Freeman said. “As if that’s all there is to Black history. What about the other 11 months? We need to learn about Black inventors, scientists, and artists too. We need to teach the whole story.”
Freeman’s comments on race and identity are not new. He has been vocal about his opposition to Black History Month and the term “African-American” for years. In a 2011 interview with NPR, he said, “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
He explained his position by saying, “How are we going to get rid of racism? 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.”
Regardless of where one stands on the issue, Freeman’s comments highlight the ongoing conversation about race and identity in America. As the country continues to grapple with issues of systemic racism and inequality, it’s important to have open and honest conversations about the language we use to discuss race and how we teach and learn about Black history.