Morgan Freeman on Color

Tiger Woods isn’t the only celebrity to be tired of people trying to pigeonhole him in one race or another, or to even make a big stink about the color of his skin. Morgan Freeman recently spoke out, somewhat, on the manic obsession that our society makes of race and color:

“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.”

Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

Freeman notes there is no “white history month,” and says the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.”

The actor says he believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism.

“I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman says.

I guess now that blacks have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures, albeit in a rather contrived showing a couple years ago (which is not to say that Denzel Washington didn’t deserve the award), that’s just one less milestone to conquer. (By the way, doesn’t anybody think it’s rather nice, and rather interesting, that a black man got to go to space before one got an Oscar? I’ve been informed that Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field in 1963, twenty years before Guion “Guy” Bluford became the first African-American in space. The first black man in space was Cuban Colonel Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez aboard a Soviet mission in 1980.)

Without saying that racism is solved (which, so long as people are human, will never be definitively “solved”), I do believe that this is another step toward Dr. King’s dream that someday, people will be judged “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”

Still, while we’re using labels, can we please stop insisting calling blacks “African-Americans”, and insisting that folks like Charlize Theron cannot be called “African-American” simply because she’s white.

By the way, Mr. Freeman, for your words, and for your wonderful work in motion pictures, you are the man!

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

11 thoughts on “Morgan Freeman on Color”

  1. Not too long ago, I watched Charlie Rose interview Morgan Freeman on television. It was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve seen in a long time. Morgan Freeman is an interesting person.

  2.’s Best of the Web Today routinely highlights the hilarity of the label “African American”.

    It’s really funny when someone uses the term to describe a person with dark skin who is neither African nor American (such as, for example, a black person who is Dutch.) Or, better yet, when they refer to someone born and living in Africa as “African American” even though they’ve never been to the western hemisphere…

  3. Busy little monkeys that we are, race is going to become an antique notion as we intermarry. Good for us. After we all play golf like Tiger Woods and have girlfriends like Halley Berry, we will have to find a new way to be stupid.

  4. People forget that if we’re going to cruch the numbers, Tiger Woods is as white as he is black, and really, he’s Asian. But does it matter? Not a whit.

    Taranto is great, if for nothing else because he never assumes that he is the end-all of knowledge. He’s often right, but he’s not going to rub your nose in it.

    I have a friend from high school who is black or African-American by appearance, I suppose, but his heritage is French and Haitian, I believe. In high school, it was never a big deal and in fact, friends of all races were able to talk and joke about it. Sad to say, high school in this case was the most relaxed and truly most integrated society. What I think of, and his friends do, is a really great person and someone I think highly of.

    Long story short, good for Morgan Freeman.

  5. I like Morgan Freeman. He pulls off gravitas better than anybody. So does James Earl Jones. Come to think of it most black actors seem to do that really well (except comics of course). I wonder why that is?

  6. By the way, doesn’t anybody think it’s rather nice, and rather interesting, that a black man got to go to space before one got an Oscar?

    There was a black man in space before Sidney Poitier won an award for “Lilies of the Field”?

  7. Morgan Freeman was right on. Black history is American history and can’t be recognized in one month. Racism and race is still an issue in this country. It would be nice if we could stop talking about it to make it go away. I am glad that Mr. Freeman was a little more tactful than Bill Cosby was or he would be slain by “black liberals” as the truth of his statements would be twisted and he would catch hell. Morgan is a smooth fella.

  8. Yes, it is certainly true that African-American history is an integral part of American history and should be recognized as such. But it is also true that in the United States, African-American history would tend to get neglected and ignored and downplayed out of proportion unless some people made a conscious effort to make sure it was given its due. (The same is true of Black history in relation to world history) That is the reason why there is still a need for things like Black History month.

  9. Morgan Freeman got a voice through the brilliance of his talent and what an interesting thinker he is and how articulate he is. I just cannot include the dire, self-righteous, pontificating lefty Sidney Poitier in the same class as Morgan Freeman.

    Morgan Freeman belongs on the world stage. Sidney Poitier belongs in the United Nations. In fact, he’s probably already there as “ambassador” to something.

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