04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Criminy! I Forgot to Celebrate Black History Month Again


I would like to extend a sincere apology for forgetting Black History Month yet again. I don't know why this seems to happen every year, but come every February 28, I'm always filled with regret that I didn't do any celebrating. Not any celebrating in February per say, because this month included Groundhog Day, the day after Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, Taco Night, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Purim, Chinese New Year, William Henry Harrison's Birthday, the 51st anniversary of Buddy Holly's death, Waitangi Day, the premiere of the Ricky Gervais Show and a personal day I simply called the Mad Dog 20/20 Mid-Weeker.

It's not even that I'm forgetful when it comes to important dates. I always remember my wife's birthday, it's March 12. Yes, it helps that she gave me one of those grade school Mnemonic devices to remember it (1+2=3: Third month, twelfth day, 3/12, My Very Ernest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles), but still, it's in the lockbox. And yet, I can never recall the four weeks --exactly four weeks except during those freakish Leap years-- when I am told it's time to celebrate Black History. It's not like the signs aren't there, I just keep missing them. Why just the other day I was perusing some of the great works of African-American art on display this month at my local Wal-Mart, but it didn't click in my simpleton brain that The Player's Club and Thug Angel: Tupac Shakur were being singled out because it's February, not solely due to artistic merit.

I didn't even think to partake in the myriad of local activities to honor the amazing contributions of our African-American brothers and sisters. All I had to do was hop on a train and I could've attended a home game of the 5-52 New Jersey Nets that included a free tee-shirt pertaining to "the development of passenger railroads in the United States." Thanks for your corporate contributions to Black History, Amtrak! The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters would be so proud!


How pathetic is it that I didn't even need to leave my laptop to celebrate and it still escaped me? is having a Black History Month sale! I don't know that I would ever need a jar of Rasta Mango & Lime Locks & Twist Locking Creme Wax, but in honor of freedom fighters like Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey and Medgar Evers, it's only $2.49!

If you'll allow me, there were two solid reasons that I forgot about the designated 28 days of acknowledgment. Excuses, yes, but indulge me. After all, I am admitting what a terrible friend I am to Black History.


First, I moved. Changing addresses is an awful all-encompassing endeavor that sucks your will to live, so I haven't been in a celebratory mood anyway. However, I did move into the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is where Richard Wright wrote Native Son, Spike Lee keeps his 40 Acres and a Mule joint, and Slide Hampton blew his trombone. That counts as a thing, right?


I wouldn't count it either considering the biggest reason I missed Black History Month is the Winter Olympics. I've been buried in snow (or the sloppy Whistler approximation) since my super hung the TV on the wall.

And we all know that the only thing whiter than the snow at the Winter Olympics is every single thing about the Winter Olympics.


Somehow, in all of the hours logged watching these blessed events, I missed the Snow Leopard's run, so I can't even lay claim to a tangential connection to Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong. I blame it on the curling.

Unfortunately, I know I'm not the only one asleep at the wheel. It's almost as if Black History Month has become perfunctory, barely a blip on people's radar, with none of the joie de vivre that the celebration used to be about. I couldn't even bring myself to watch Malcolm X on cable, although that's mainly because the 45th anniversary of his assassination came and went last Sunday with nary a blip about El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.


It didn't seem right to ignore the anniversary of X's death during Black History Month, but it was even less fair that one full week of cursory media coverage was usurped by some white asshole and his Piper Cherokee.

As penance, I want to make up for my lazy approach to February by making a big splash right here. I want to steal back the thunder of the man who callously stole it away from Black History Month by crashing a plane into the IRS building. Black History Month deserves better than to have an entire week dominated by the murderer Joseph Stack.

For a moment, I considered piloting a plane pulling a Black History Month banner into some sort of anti-government building, but then I remembered I have an irrational fear of crashing into immovable objects at high speeds.

Instead, I am starting a campaign to honor a true hero of 2010 Black History Month, and every other damn month of this year as well.

Vernon Hunter.


If you don't known who Vernon Hunter is, you should.

He's a true blue American patriot.

(What he's not is the wanton killer being celebrated on the web and given the benefit of the doubt by an actual U.S. Congressman. But this isn't about those pricks.)

Hunter served two tours in Vietnam, fighting in a real war on behalf of his country.

Hunter was a married father of three children, three stepchildren, and grandfather of seven kids.

Hunter was a member of Austin's Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Hunter was formerly a substitute teacher.

Hunter had a fondness for barbecue.

Hunter was a generous employee of the IRS for two decades.

Hunter was a man whose son Ken said of his father's murderer, "If {Stack} would have talked to my dad, my dad would have helped him."

Hunter, 68, died at work for the crime of doing his job.

Hunter will be buried with full military honors.

Hunter is the real American we should be celebrating this Black History Month.

Let it start here. How about trying to get his name on the IRS building in Austin? How about we start calling April 15th "Vernon Hunter Day?" A memorial?

I'm open to any and all suggestions.

I might have forgotten Black History Month, but I want to remember Vernon Hunter.