I think that BW photography is very difficult and requires a high degree of sensibility and also a lot of experience. But for most it is an illusion: one cannot just turn ANY photo into B&W and end up with a good photo. Others add a bit of color and call it "sepia". Black and whites photography eliminates the non-important information and keeps the essential. But then it means that the photo MUST have something to say, otherwise, color or black and white, is the same! For me photography is about CONTENT, every photo must have content, even if it is abstractly stated.
Photos for me, begin life as a B&Ws. We see a lot more color these days, as opposed to 20 years ago, since digital color is so easy to achieve, and it looks superb. In the past color printing was expensive, relatively, and the chemicals were dangerous ( most, not all ). When you loaded the B&W film, you immediately began "thinking" in B&W. Composition, light, contrast, and mostly -tonal range- become important priorities. Tonal range is the key, it's not something many photographers worry about with color, although it's subliminal. The equal trade off is depth of color and saturation, which is not a concern in B&W, and not the same thinking or seeing as tonal range. Digital is a new 500 pound gorilla in this discussion, very few photographers will turn off color capture and record only in B&W on digital cards, why would you? I find that this allows a nice challenge to see and think in color and B&W at the same time, since you can decide later, the end result.