*The grand irony behind the PBS film “More Than a Month,” about a black man’s effort to get rid of Black History Month, is that it makes its television premiere during Black History Month.
Shukree Hassan Tilghman – the documentary’s 29-year-old writer, director and producer – feels that black history should not be held apart from American history, and at the very least, should not be relegated to the shortest month of the year. The film (premiering Thursday, Feb. 16 at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens”) shows Tilghman criss-crossing the country soliciting support for his movement.
“My way of going about it in this particular film was that maybe part of claiming that American-ness, for lack of a better term, for that history, is getting it out of that month,” Tilghman said at the recent TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif. “That was sort of my first step. Maybe you have to sort of break something down in order for that better thing to take its place. But most people didn’t agree with me, and that’s sort of the story of the film.”
Tilghman’s road trip begins in Washington D.C., with each stop along the way exploring a different dimension of Black History Month: education, history, identity, and commercialism. The film ultimately questions the relevance of all ethnic heritage months, and whether separating black history from American history actually belittles the contributions of African American’s throughout U.S. history.
In the audio below, Tilghman speaks about the irony of PBS choosing to debut “More Than a Month” as part of its Black History Month programming, and whether he would prefer his work premiere in any month other than February. [Scroll down to watch the trailer.]