As mentioned previously and reported all over the place, on February 10th there will be an event called “A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” at the White House, with Bob Dylan and a smorgasbord of other artists performing. It is to be emceed by Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah. Interesting, perhaps, is the clip below of Morgan Freeman talking to Mike Wallace of CBS on his attitude towards “Black History Month” and his idea on how to end racism. (H/t to this tweeter.)
To summarize, he says that he doesn’t want a “Black History Month,” because it should just be considered American history; and his idea for ending racism is to “stop talking about it,” and for people to call each other by name, instead of characterizing each other by race.
Some might wonder if there’s something inconsistent in voicing those opinions and at the same time being the emcee at that White House event dedicated to the music of the Civil Right Movement on February 10th, but of-course there isn’t. Remembering the Civil Rights movement (and the music associated with it) is remembering an important time in U.S. history on its own merits. It’s not being remembered because it’s something that happens to involve black people but would otherwise be insignificant; it’s being remembered, and it ought to be remembered, because it is about human beings asserting their rights and achieving liberty. In a pure sense, it’s about the promise of the U.S. Declaration of Independence once again being asserted and bearing fruit. Ideas matter, and words matter; a country founded on the idea and the words below …
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
… has fallen short of them in many ways and still does today (most importantly, in my view, when it comes to abortion) but at least we have this idea and these words as a center of gravity to which to return. The Civil Rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s were triumphs for black Americans but the battles were not fought only by black Americans.
In any case, I don’t know anything about Morgan Freeman’s opinions on any other issues, but I do applaud his brand of commonsense idealism when it comes to the issues of race, as portrayed in that clip.