Last week, I attended a lecture by Hank O'Neal.
During the talk, he discussed some of his conversations with Berenice Abbott. He said that there were times when she told him not to shoot in color even though he argued that a given photo "needed" to be in color. The rationale was thus:
When you take a photograph, you are compressing an image down from the real world, in three dimensions to a flat, 2-D likeness. Because of this, a photograph can easily become "cluttered" with too much information. Shooting in black and white allows the photographer to distill the image down to its essential components without having to look through the clutter of color information.
He did allude to the fact that some photos call for color but the thrust of the argument was that, to be a good photographer, you must learn how to shoot black and white in order to learn how to distill an image down to its essential elements.
He also picked on a couple of the digitographers in the crowd and told them that it is vital for them to learn how to shoot with film if they want to progress in photography. But that's a different story.