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The Problem of Black History: Race, Memory, and the American Creed

Recorded on February 12, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

Fredrick Douglass argued that "The sum of the black man's misfortunes and calamities are just here: He is everywhere treated as an exception to all the general rules which should operate in the relations of other men."  In light of this, what should we think about Black History Month?  What was its original purpose, and has it outlived this purpose?  And does it now serve to divide rather than unite America, highlighting racial differences and fostering "identity politics" -- where individuals are treated differently depending on their race and not their merit? 

Lucas Morel is Associate Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  Dr. Morel holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Claremont Graduate School and is the author of Lincoln's Sacred Effort: Defining Religion's Role in American Self-Government and editor of Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to "Invisible Man" (2004).