Morgan Freeman doesn’t like the terms “African American” or “Black History Month.”
In a candid interview about race relations in the U.S., Freeman, 85, told the U.K.’s Sunday Times that Black History Month is an “insult.”
“Black history is American history; they’re completely intertwined,” Freeman argued. “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?”
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The Oscar award-winning actor went on to say he doesn’t like being called “African American” because the label is inaccurate.
“I don’t subscribe to that title,” Freeman said. “Black people have had different titles all the way back to the N-word and I do not know how these things get such a grip, but everyone uses ‘African American.’”
He continued: “What does it really mean? Most Black people in this part of the world are mongrels. And you say Africa as if it’s a country when it’s a continent, like Europe.”
He compared the term to others like Irish-American or Italian-American, which denote a country of origin.
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Freeman said he instead prefers the term “Black.” He said he agreed with actor Denzel Washington’s iconic quote about being “very proud to be Black, but Black is not all I am.”
“I’m in total agreement,” Freeman concurred. “You can’t define me that way.”
This is not the first time Freeman has voiced upset about the term “African American.” In 2012, he told The Guardian he preferred “Black” as a classification “because ‘Black’ is beautiful. One syllable vs. seven.”
In the Sunday Times interview, Freeman also briefly opened up about his iconic film career, which began amid the American civil rights movement. He said he owes his success to courage, luck and a changing political and social landscape in the U.S.
Freeman claimed there were little-to-no Black actors in movies during his youth until Sidney Poitier, the first Black actor to win an Academy Award, began to pave the way.
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Freeman said he continues to see change in the film industry today.
“All people are involved now,” he explained. “Everyone. LGBTQ, Asians, Black, white, interracial marriages, interracial relationships. All represented. You see them all on screen now and that is a huge jump.”
Freeman gave the rare interview as promotion for the Zach Braff-led film, A Good Person, which he stars in alongside Florence Pugh. The film was released March 24, 2023, and is currently in theatres.
The Memphis-born actor is well-acclaimed and won an Oscar in 2005 for his role in Million Dollar Baby. Freeman was also nominated for Street Smart (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Invictus (2009).
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