Being honored one month out of the year isn’t good enough anymore, says John Wiley Price, Dallas County Commissioner. Price, a strong advocate for African American issues and founder of Kwanzaa Fest Inc., a cultural event created in 1991 that acknowledges the seven principles of the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, publicly stated that he gets hundreds of offers to speak at public engagements honoring Black History Month. But after February 28 the phone stops ringing off the hook, the fax machine slows down and e-mail offers to speak at symposiums, universities, and middle schools about black history are completely eliminated.
Price believes the only way to bring attention to the matter is to boycott Black History Month.
“Black people are very visible during Black History Month; however, during the rest of the year we are invisible,” Price said on a Washington, D.C. local news network. Price said that when his services are abruptly no longer needed, he feels that he’s been used and “pimped.”
Price is not the only one who is been critical of the 28-day observance. According to published reports, other scholars agree with Price’s sentiments. Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, Professor of American History at Princeton University and author of many Black history books and essays, said she also doesn’t accept Black History Month speaking engagements anymore.
Bob Lydia, President of the Dallas NAACP publicly stated that Black history month should not be limited to just 28 days and he understands the reasons behind Price’s boycott.
Black History Month was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson after he discovered that the contributions of African Americans was absent from his college history books. In 1926, Woodson created Negro History Week to bring national attention to the matter. According to historical publications, Woodson chose February because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was February 12 and February 14 marked that of Frederick Douglass. By the l970s, three more weeks were added creating Black History Month.
While many agree that Price is doing the right thing by boycotting Black History Month, there are others who believe that a boycott is the wrong route to take.
Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, Virginia’s Secretary of Education told BCV.com that she doe not share Painter’s or Price’s perspective on a boycott.
“I do believe he [Price] has a legitimate argument,” Wheelan said. “I believe Carter G. Woodson’s goal was to eventually have our story told right along with everyone else’s. It started with a week then progressed to a month. Hopefully and ultimately, it will progress to 24-7, 365 days a year.”