Morgan Freeman describes Black History Month and the term ‘African-American’ as “an insult”

"You’re going to relegate my history to a month?"

Morgan Freeman has said that he considers Black History Month and the term ‘African-American’ an “insult”.

The actor gave a rare interview to The Sunday Times’s Culture magazine in which he discussed his views on race.

“Two things I can say publicly that I do not like. Black History Month is an insult. You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” he questioned.


“Also ‘African-American’ is an insult. I don’t subscribe to that title. 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.” As a point of comparison, he mentioned that people talk about Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans rather than describing themselves as Euro-Americans.

a good person
Morgan Freeman as Daniel and Florence Pugh as Allison in ‘A Good Person’ (Picture: Sky UK/ Jeong Park)

Elsewhere in the interview, Freeman discussed the importance of representation on screen. He began acting in the later days of the Hays Code, a censorship list of what films were allowed to show which banned, amongst other things, “ridicule of the clergy” and inter-racial relationships. It was abolished in 1968.

“When I was growing up there was no ‘me’ in the movies,” he said. “If there was a black man in a movie he was funny. Until Sidney Poitier came and gave young people like me the idea that, ‘OK, yes, I can do that.’”

He later said: “The change is that all people are involved now. 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’s most recent film role was in Zach Braff’s A Good Person. The film tells the story of Allison (Florence Pugh), who is involved in a car accident that kills her fiancé’s sister and her husband. She and her fiancé’ split up a year later, but she carries on a friendship with his father (Freeman), exploring the complexities of grief, addiction and, as the title suggests, what makes a good person.

The film has been released to mixed reviews. In a two-star review, NME wrote: “While Pugh and Freeman try their best with a pair of nuanced performances, their complex characters are let down by a weak script from Braff, which presents interesting ideas but doesn’t quite pull them together, relying instead on constant exposition that lacks any real subtlety.

A Good Person unfortunately won’t stand as Braff’s finest achievement, and while Pugh and Freeman each give strong turns with what they’re given, even they can’t save this patchy effort from misfiring.”

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