Morgan Freeman Says the Term African-American Is “An Insult”: “What Does It Really Mean?”

"You say Africa as if it's a country when it’s a continent, like Europe"

Morgan Freeman African-American Black History Month insult quote
Morgan Freeman, photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

    Morgan Freeman has explained why he views the term African-American as “an insult” and aired out his issues with Black History Month in a rare interview with The Sunday Times.

    “Two things I can say publicly that I do not like,” Freeman said. “Black History Month is an insult. You’re going to relegate my history to a month? Also ‘African-American’ is an insult. I don’t subscribe to that title.”

    He continued, “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.’ 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.”


    Sunday Times Senior Writer Jonathan Dean cited a relevant quote from Denzel Washington, who once said, “I’m very proud to be Black but Black is not all I am.” Freeman agreed with the sentiment, saying, “Yes, exactly. I’m in total agreement. You can’t define me that way.”

    For context, the 85-year-old actor also spoke about the lack of Black actors in Hollywood while he grew up and then having fear of being typecast once he broke through. “When I was growing up there was no ‘me’ in the movies,” Freeman 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.'”

    As a result, Freeman was “terrified of being trapped” after playing a pimp in 1987’s Street Smart and made sure to never play that type of role again. “I did get offers to repeat that Street Smart character, but it was not a good idea,” he said. “Some actors will always be bad guys or good guys. I didn’t want to be like that, which you will become if you keep taking the same roles over and again.”


    Later in the interview, Freeman acknowledged a “huge jump” in Hollywood representation. “The change is that all people are involved now,” he said. “Everyone. LGBTQ, Asians, Black, white, interracial marriages, interracial relationships. All represented.”

    Freeman is currently promoting his latest film, A Good Person, co-starring Florence Pugh. The drama was written and directed by Zach Braff. Up next, he will appear opposite Josh Hutcherson in a thriller called 57 Seconds and star in an action flick titled Gunner alongside Luke Hemsworth.