‘This Whole Idea Makes My Teeth Itch’: Morgan Freeman Doubles Down on Why He Hates Black History Month

Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who was born amidst the harsh realities of Jim Crow laws in Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1930s, recently shared controversial statements about Black History Month, a sentiment he has addressed in the past.

In an interview with Variety to promote his upcoming Civil War series, “The Gray House,” which premiered at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, Freeman says he is not a fan of having a single month to commemorate Black history and that it feels alienating to him as a full-blooded American.

According to Freeman, he believes that Black history is American history and should be recognized as such throughout the entire year.

When asked how he felt about Black History Month, he said, “I detest it.”

What exactly does he not like? Freeman explains, “The mere idea of it. You are going to give me the shortest month in a year? And you are going to celebrate ‘my’ history?! This whole idea makes my teeth itch. It’s not right.”

Morgan Freeman doubles down on why he hates Black History Month
Morgan Freeman participates in the “The Story of God” panel at the National Geographic Channel 2016 Winter TCA in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

The 87-year-old added, “My history is American history. It’s the one thing in this world I am interested in beyond making money, having a good time, and getting enough sleep.”

National Black History Month traces its roots back to 1915. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a prominent historian and author, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Woodson’s goal was to shine a spotlight on the contributions and history of Black Americans, which were often overlooked in mainstream narratives at the turn of the 20th century, according to the Library of Congress.

In 1926, Woodson and the ASNLH initiated the first Negro History Week. The timing was deliberate — the second week of February was chosen because it overlapped the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, Feb. 12 and Feb. 14, respectively, both considered at the time to be pivotal figures in Black history.

Fast-forward to 1975, and President Gerald Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Week. The next year the ASNLH, by then known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), extended the celebration from a week to the entire month of February. President Ford followed suit by issuing a Black History Month message that year, and in the years to follow presidents have recognized the month.

In 1986, Black History Month received congressional recognition. Congress passed a joint resolution designating February as “National Black (Afro-American) History Month” and directing President Ronald Reagan to issue a proclamation declaring it so. Official recognition of the month has endured since them

Despite this history, the “Amistad” actor wishes the celebration of the month would end.

Black people responded on social media about his position, with one commenter saying, “Morgan Freeman is speaking for himself.”

In April, similar comments from Freeman caused a firestorm online thanks to Elon Musk retweeting a 2016 interview in which Freeman said he was a “huge fan.” This caused social media users to dig up other videos of Freeman, one of which was a  2005 “60 Minutes” interview with Mike Wallace, in which Freeman says he finds Black History Month “ridiculous.”

“You’re gonna relegate my history to a month?” asked Freeman. “What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month?”

He continued, “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”

When asked by Wallace how he believed society could get rid of racism, Freeman responded, “Stop talking about it. I’m gonna stop calling you a white man, and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a Black man.”

At the time the video resurfaced, many fans online called Freeman a sellout.

One person said after seeing the clip, “Morgan Freeman and degenerate yt ppl think the solution to end racism is to stop talking about it. I guess it’s too hard to just not be racist & dismantle systemic racism? I wonder if we stop talking about poverty, human rights, global warming etc. will that also just go away?”

Another tweeted, “Not you too Morgan. A f—king sellout. I never saw this one. FFS Imagine being on the wrong side of history watching people repeat history. This is disgusting.”

Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary serve as executive producers on “The Gray House,” a show inspired by true events that tells the story of four Southern women who spy on the Confederacy on behalf of the Union. “If you don’t know your past, if you don’t remember it, you are bound to repeat it,” Freeman says in regards to the eight-episode series.

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