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Tracee Ellis Ross on How Black-ish Enlisted Octavia Spencer to School Us for Black History Month

The ABC comedy enlisted Spencer for one of its most clever bits yet

Keisha Hatchett

In its unique approach to the issues affecting African Americans, black-ish masterfully blends humor with unflinching honesty, establishing itself as one of the most culturally relevant shows out there in the process. The inventive comedy is set to tackle Black History Month in a thought-provoking episode airing Tuesday, Feb. 26 that also utilizes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer in a clever and unexpected way.

"We use a different device, and that wonderful device is Octavia Spencer. We go through all different kinds of people from black history and really try and expand the idea that it's not just about historical figures," Tracee Ellis Ross, who directed the episode, told TV Guide.

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The episode, aptly titled "Black History Month," finds Dre (Anthony Anderson) upset that his children are receiving a surface-level education on the important contributions of black figures throughout history. To combat that, he agrees to host a presentation at their school. But it ends up being more difficult than he originally thought when he realizes that he must compress the history of an entire people into one speech. Dre's struggle opens up a larger discussion with Bo (Ross) and the rest of his family about what it really means to celebrate Black History Month.

"We explain where the idea of Black History Month came from, and then every time someone mentions a different person, Octavia Spencer gives an old-school PSA version of who they are, Ross explained. "The end result is that Dre is able to give this idea to the kids at school and to all of us at home that Black History Month is not necessarily about black history. It's about who we are as a people and the many different extraordinary things that we do. And it's not just about the four basic people that are extraordinary but are the main focus of how we usually see Black History Month."

That frank talk will hopefully help viewers better understand that blackness is more than just a chapter in a history book. "The experience of blackness is a multifaceted tapestry of experience that is about the fullness of who we are as people, not about the history that we come from only. It's more than that," Ross added.

Edify your minds and catch the Black History Month episode of black-ish when it airs on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 9/8c on ABC.

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