The 1619 Project - Wikipedia Article

.
Usually each month’s “Reference Materials” section includes, inter alia, book reviews from -

The New York Times;
The Wall Street Journal; and
The Washington Post

HOWEVER, Peter Wood’s “1620: A Critical Response To The 1619 Project,” though a significant part of the overall picture, is far from achieving a thorough understanding of why “The 1619 Project” has become such an explosive political issue in America as dozens of states have banned, or are considering banning, the teaching of “The 1619 Project” in their public schools -- after all, Peter Wood's "1620" was published last Fall.

ACCORDINGLY, a much broader understanding of the controversy is provided by the Wikipedia article “The 1619 Project” which is posted in this section.

ORDINARILY, we view Wikipedia articles as only as good as their footnotes.

NEVERTHELESS, this Wikipedia article contains an excellent collection of footnotes and appears to comprise as of this date (15 June 2021) the best-available overview of the controversy.

BTW, the “Participant Comments” for our 7/14/2021 meeting (which should appear just above this section if you scroll up) contains as its first posting (which will probably appear at the bottom of that section’s postings since the bulletin-board software always lists them in reverse-chronological order) a transcript “Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on ‘Face The Nation’ June 6” vis-à-vis her comments about The 1619 Project.

Although the transcript of her comments comprises quasi-reference materials, they were enclosed in our weekly 6/12/2021 e-mail to our 195 members to explain how John Karls was responding to queries about where he stands on “The 1619 Project” and Peter Wood’s “1620: A Critical Response To The 1619 Project.”
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johnkarls
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The 1619 Project - Wikipedia Article

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The 1619 Project
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"The 1619 Project"
The 1619 Project logo
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Long-form journalism

Publisher The New York Times

Publication date August 2019

The 1619 Project is a long-form journalism project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative".[1] The project was first published in The New York Times Magazine in August 2019 for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colony of Virginia.[2] The project later included a broadsheet article, live events, and a podcast.[3]

The project has sparked criticism and debate among prominent historians and political commentators.[4][5][6] In a letter published in The New York Times in December 2019, historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson, Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum and James Oakes expressed "strong reservations" about the project and requested factual corrections, accusing the project of putting ideology before historical understanding. In response, Jake Silverstein, the editor of The New York Times Magazine, defended the accuracy of the 1619 Project and declined to issue corrections.[7] In March 2020, The Times issued a "clarification", modifying one of the passages that had sparked controversy.[8][9]

On May 4, 2020, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the award of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary to project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones for her introductory essay to the 1619 Project.[10][11]

In September 2020, renewed controversy arose over edits that had been made to the project without accompanying editorial notes, which critics—including Bret Stephens of the Times—claimed showed the New York Times was backing away from some of the project's more controversial claims.[12][13][14] The Times defended its practices.[12][13][15]

Contents

• 1 Background
• 2 Project
o 2.1 August 14, 2019 magazine issue
o 2.2 Accompanying material and activities
• 3 Reception
o 3.1 Reaction from historians
 3.1.1 Response
o 3.2 Motivations for the American Revolution
o 3.3 Journalistic reaction
o 3.4 Political reaction
o 3.5 Awards
• 4 See also
• 5 References
• 6 Further reading
• 7 External links
o 7.1 Implementation in schools

Background

A 1901 illustration of the landing of the first Africans in Virginia. The White Lion is seen anchored in the background.

Further information: Slavery in the colonial history of the United States

The 1619 Project was launched in August 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in colonial Virginia.[16][17] In 1619, a group of "twenty and odd" captive Africans arrived in the Virginia Colony. A Dutch-operated privateer, White Lion, carried 20–30 Africans who had been captured by a joint African-Portuguese raid[18] against the Kingdom of Ndongo in modern-day Angola, making its landing at Point Comfort in the English colony of Virginia.[16][19]

Although the Project places this moment in the context of slavery in the colonial history of the United States, some have taken issue with this, questioning whether those 1619 arrivals became slaves, calling attention to intermingling with English and native people and the creation of a community of people of African descent.[20] Others have pointed out that the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America in 1526,[21] and that European slavery in the New World is documented as far back as Columbus in 1494, possibly as early as 1493.[22]

Project

The project dedicated an issue of the magazine to a re-examination of the legacy of slavery in the United States, at the anniversary of the 1619 arrival of the first slaves to Virginia, challenging the notion that the history of the United States began in 1776 or with the arrival of the Pilgrims.[23] The initiative quickly grew into a larger project.[19] The project encompasses multiple issues of the magazine, with related materials in multiple other publications of the Times as well as a project curriculum developed in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, for use in schools.[19] The project employed a panel of historians and had support from the Smithsonian, for fact-checking, research and development.[24] The project was envisioned with the condition that almost all of the contributions would be from African-American contributors, deeming the perspective of black writers an essential element of the story to be told.[25]

August 14, 2019 magazine issue

The first edition, which appeared in The New York Times Magazine on August 14, 2019, published in 100 pages with ten essays, a photo essay, and a collection of poems and fiction by an additional 16 writers[26] and an introduction by Jake Silverstein, included the following works:[17][27]

• "America Wasn't a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One", essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones
• "American Capitalism Is Brutal. You Can Trace That to the Plantation", essay by Matthew Desmond
• "How False Beliefs in Physical Racial Difference Still Live in Medicine Today", essay by Linda Villarosa
• "What the Reactionary Politics of 2019 Owe to the Politics of Slavery", essay by Jamelle Bouie
• "Why Is Everyone Always Stealing Black Music?", essay by Wesley Morris
• "How Segregation Caused Your Traffic Jam", essay by Kevin Kruse
• "Why Doesn't America Have Universal Healthcare? One Word: Race", essay by Jeneen Interlandi
• "Why American Prisons Owe Their Cruelty to Slavery", essay by Bryan Stevenson
• "The Barbaric History of Sugar in America", essay by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
• "How America's Vast Racial Wealth Gap Grew: By Plunder", essay by Trymaine Lee
• "Their Ancestors Were Enslaved by Law. Now They're Lawyers", photo essay by Djeneba Aduayom, with text from Nikole Hannah-Jones and Wadzanai Mhute
• "A New Literary Timeline of African-American History", a collection of original poems and stories

o Clint Smith on the Middle Passage
o Yusef Komunyakaa on Crispus Attucks
o Eve L. Ewing on Phillis Wheatley
o Reginald Dwayne Betts on the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793
o Barry Jenkins on Gabriel's Rebellion
o Jesmyn Ward on the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves
o Tyehimba Jess on Black Seminoles
o Darryl Pinckney on the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863
o ZZ Packer on the New Orleans massacre of 1866
o Yaa Gyasi on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment
o Jacqueline Woodson on Sgt. Isaac Woodard
o Joshua Bennett on the Black Panther Party
o Lynn Nottage on the birth of hip-hop
o Kiese Laymon on the Rev. Jessie Jackson’s “rainbow coalition” speech
o Clint Smith on the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina

One of the central claims made by Hannah-Jones is that the colonists fought the Revolutionary War in order to preserve slavery.[28][29] The claim was later softened to "some of" the colonists having fought to preserve slavery.[30] The essays further discuss details of history as well as modern American society, such as traffic jams and the American affinity for sugar, and their connections to slavery and segregation.[31] Matthew Desmond's essay argues that slavery has shaped modern capitalism and workplace norms. Jamelle Bouie's essay draws parallels between pro-slavery politics and the modern right-wing politics.[25] Bouie argues that the United States still has not let go of the assumption that some people inherently deserve more power than others.[32]

Accompanying material and activities

The magazine issue was accompanied by a special section in the Sunday newspaper, in partnership with the Smithsonian, examining the beginnings of the transatlantic slave trade, written by Mary Elliott and Jazmine Hughes. Beginning on August 20, a multi-episode audio series titled "1619" began,[31] published by The Daily, the morning news podcast of the Times.[19] The Sunday sports section had an essay about slavery's impact on professional sports in the United States: "Is Slavery's Legacy in the Power Dynamics of Sports?".[19][33] The Times plans to take the project to schools, with the 1619 Project Curriculum developed in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center.[34] Hundreds of thousands of extra copies of the magazine issue were printed for distribution to schools, museums and libraries.[16]

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has made available free online lesson plans, is collecting further lesson plans from teachers, and helps arrange for speakers to visit classes.[35] The Center considers most of the lessons usable by all grades from elementary school through college.[36]

Reception

Reaction from historians

See also: Slavery in the United States § Revolutionary era

Beginning in October 2019, the World Socialist Web Site published a series of interviews with prominent historians critical of the 1619 Project, including Victoria E. Bynum, James M. McPherson, Gordon S. Wood, James Oakes, Richard Carwardine and Clayborne Carson.[6][5][37][38] In an essay for The New York Review of Books, historian Sean Wilentz accused the 1619 Project of cynicism for its portrayal of the American Revolution, the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, who Wilentz wrote is "rendered as a white supremacist".[39]

In a December 2019 letter published in The New York Times, historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson, Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum and James Oakes expressed "strong reservations" about the project and requested factual corrections, accusing the authors of a "displacement of historical understanding by ideology". The letter disputed the claim, made in the Hannah-Jones' introductory essay to the 1619 Project, that "one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery". The Times published the letter along with a rebuttal from the magazine's editor-in-chief, Jake Silverstein,[7][5] who defended the accuracy of the 1619 Project and declined to issue corrections. Wood responded in a letter, "I don't know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves ... No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776."[6][40] In an article in The Atlantic, Wilentz responded to Silverstein, writing, "No effort to educate the public in order to advance social justice can afford to dispense with a respect for basic facts", and disputing the factual accuracy of Silverstein's defense of the project.[41]

Also in December 2019, twelve scholars and political scientists specializing in the American Civil War sent a letter to the Times saying that "The 1619 Project offers a historically-limited view of slavery." While agreeing to the importance of examining American slavery, they objected to what they described as the portrayal of slavery as a uniquely American phenomenon, to construing slavery as a capitalist venture, and to presenting out-of-context quotes of a conversation between Abraham Lincoln and "five esteemed free black men". The following month, Times editor Jake Silverstein replied with a rebuttal.[42]

In January 2020, historian Dr. Susan Parker, who specializes in the studies of Colonial United States at Flagler College, noted that slavery existed before any of the 13 Colonies. She wrote in an editorial in The St. Augustine Record that "The settlement known as San Miguel de Gualdape lasted for about six weeks from late September 1526 to the middle of November. Historian Paul Hoffman writes that the slaves at San Miguel rebelled and set fire to some homes of the Spaniards."[43] Writing in USA Today, several historians among them Parker, archaeologist Kathleen A. Deagan also of Flagler, and civil rights activist and historian David Nolan all agreed that slavery was present decades before the year 1619. According to Deagan, people have "spent their careers trying to correct the erroneous belief," and Nolan said that in ignoring the earlier settlement, the authors were "robbing black history".[44]

In March 2020, historian Leslie M. Harris, who was consulted for the Project, wrote in Politico that she had warned that the idea that the American Revolution was fought to protect slavery was inaccurate, and that the Times made avoidable mistakes, but that the project was "a much-needed corrective to the blindly celebratory histories".[45] Hannah-Jones has also said that she stands by the claim that slavery helped fuel the revolution, though she concedes she might have phrased it too strongly in her essay, in a way that could give readers the impression that the support for slavery was universal.[5][45] On March 11, 2020, Silverstein authored an "update" in the form of a "clarification" on the Times' website, correcting Hannah-Jones's essay to state that "protecting slavery was a primary motivation for some of the colonists".[46] This "clarification" was reportedly prompted by a private warning to Silverstein by Harvard classicist and political scientist Danielle Allen that she might go public with criticism if the passage on the revolution were not corrected.[12]

Response

In September 2020, lead 1619 Project writer Nikole Hannah-Jones criticized conservatives for their depiction of the project, arguing that it "does not argue that 1619 is our true founding".[12] Atlantic writer Conor Friedersdorf responded on Twitter by citing statements from Hannah-Jones arguing that 1619 was the nation's true founding.[12] Philip Magness said in a Quillette essay that the claim that the project aimed to "reframe the country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding" had been removed from the opening text of project's page on the New York Times' site without an accompanying correction notice. Magness argued that this showed that the Times was quietly revising its position.[12][47][48] The conservative National Association of Scholars published a public letter asking for the revocation of the project's Pulitzer Prize.[12][49]

Responding to the criticism, Hannah-Jones said that the argument about dating the founding to 1619 was self-evidently metaphorical.[47] In an opinion column in the New York Times, Bret Stephens wrote, "These were not minor points. The deleted assertions went to the core of the project's most controversial goal, 'to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year'", and argued that "The question of journalistic practices, however, raises deeper doubts about the 1619 Project’s core premises."[47] This column led to tension within the Times, and prompted statements by Times executive editor Dean Baquet, publisher A. G. Sulzberger and New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein in support of the 1619 Project.[12][13][15][50] Responding to criticism, Hannah-Jones wrote on Twitter, "Those who've wanted to act as if tweets/discussions about the project hold more weight than the actual words of the project cannot be taken in good faith", and that "Those who point to edits of digital blurbs but ignore the unchanged text of the actual project cannot be taken in good faith."[12]

Motivations for the American Revolution

Significant controversy had centered on the project's claim that "one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery". According to Princeton University professor Sean Wilentz, the claim that there was a "perceptible British threat to American slavery in 1776" is an ahistorical assertion, noting that the British abolitionist movement was practically non-existent in 1776.[51] Wilentz also criticized the project's mentioning of the Somerset v Stewart case to support their argument, since it only concerned slavery in England, but had no effect in the American colonies.[51] Wilentz further noted that the project claims that "if the Revolution had caused the ending of the slave trade, this would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South" did not consider the numerous attempts to outlaw—or impose prohibitive duties on—the slave trade by several colonies from 1769 to 1774.[51] The historians critical of The 1619 Project have noted that many of America's Founding Fathers, such as John Adams, James Otis, and Thomas Paine were opponents of slavery. They have also noted that every state north of Maryland took steps to abolish slavery following the Revolution.[5]

In defense of the project's claims, Silverstein claimed that the Somerset case caused a "sensation" in American reports. However, according to Wilentz, the decision was reported by only six newspapers in the southern colonies, and the tone of coverage was indifferent.[51]

Journalistic reaction

The 1619 Project received positive reviews by Alexandria Neason in the Columbia Journalism Review,[19] and by Ellen McGirt in Fortune magazine, which declared the project "wide-reaching and collaborative, unflinching, and insightful" and a "dramatic and necessary corrective to the fundamental lie of the American origin story".[27]

Andrew Sullivan critiqued the project as an important perspective that needed to be heard, but one presented in a biased way under the guise of objectivity.[52] Writing in The Week, Damon Linker found the 1619 Project's treatment of history "sensationalistic, reductionistic, and tendentious".[53] Timothy Sandefur deemed the project's goal as worthy, but observed that the articles persistently went wrong trying to connect everything with slavery.[54] In National Review, Phillip W. Magness wrote that the Project provides a distorted economic history borrowed from "bad scholarship" of the New History of Capitalism (NHC),[55] and Rich Lowry wrote that Hannah-Jones' lead essay leaves out unwelcome facts about slavery, smears the Revolution, distorts the Constitution, and misrepresents the founding era and Lincoln.[56] The World Socialist Web Site criticized what its editors consider the Times' reactionary, politically motivated "falsification of history" that wrongly centers around racial rather than class conflict.[6][5][57] Marxist political scientist Adolph L. Reed Jr. dismissed the 1619 Project as "the appropriation of the past in support of whatever kind of 'just-so' stories about the present are desired".[58]

Political reaction

The publication of the project received varied reactions from political figures. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris praised the project in a tweet, stating "The #1619Project is a powerful and necessary reckoning of our history. We cannot understand and address the problems of today without speaking truth about how we got here."[25]

On the other hand, several high-profile conservatives criticized the project. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for instance, criticized the project as "brainwashing" "propaganda," in a tweet,[25] and later wrote an op-ed characterizing it as "left-wing propaganda masquerading as 'the truth'".[59] Republican Senator Ted Cruz also equated it with propaganda.[31] President Donald Trump, in an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace, said,

I just look at—I look at school. I watch, I read, look at the stuff. Now they want to change—1492, Columbus discovered America. You know, we grew up, you grew up, we all did, that's what we learned. Now they want to make it the 1619 project. Where did that come from? What does it represent? I don't even know.[60]

In July 2020, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas proposed the "Saving American History Act of 2020", prohibiting K-12 schools from using federal funds to teach curriculum related to the 1619 project, and make schools that did ineligible for federal professional-development grants. Cotton added that "The 1619 Project is a racially divisive and revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded."[61] On September 6, 2020, Trump responded on Twitter to a claim that the State of California was adding the 1619 project to the state's public school curriculum. Trump stated that the Department of Education was investigating the matter and, if the aforementioned claim was found true, federal funding would be withheld from Californian public schools.[62][63][64] On September 17, Trump announced the 1776 Commission to develop a "patriotic" curriculum.[65][66]

In October 2020, the National Association of Scholars, a conservative advocacy group, published an open letter with 21 signatories calling on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind Hannah-Jones' prize due to its claim that "protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence".[49][12]

In November 2020, then-President Trump established the "1776 Commission" by executive order,[67] organizing 18 conservative leaders to generate an opposing response to the 1619 Project.[68] The 1776 Report, released on January 18, 2021, was widely criticized for factual errors, incomplete or missing citations, and lack of academic rigor.[69] The commission was terminated by President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.[70]

On April 30, 2021, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona protesting the Department of Education's proposal to modify federal grants to states and local schools to "incentivize them to use tools like the 1619 Project in their classrooms" and demanding that the proposal be abandoned.[71] McConnell's letter charges that the programs are being modified "away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda" and notes that "Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project's many factual and historical errors."

Awards

Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the introductory essay to the 1619 Project.[10][11] The award cited her "sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America's story, prompting public conversation about the nation's founding and evolution".[72]

In October, 2020, New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute named the 1619 Project as one of the 10 greatest works of journalism in the decade from 2010 to 2019.[73]

See also
• 500 Years Later (2005)
• 1776 Unites
• 1776 Commission
• Critical Race Theory
• Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
• Historical revisionism

References

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57. "The New York Times's 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history". World Socialist Web Site. September 6, 2019. Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved August 1, 2020.

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Further reading
• Jesuthasan, Meerabelle (September 10, 2019). "Evaluating and Reshaping Timelines in The 1619 Project: New York Times for Kids Edition [lesson plans]". The New York Times.
• Magness, Phillip (2020). The 1619 Project: A Critique. American Institute for Economic Research. p. 148. ISBN 978-1630692018.
• Mysore, Meghana (August 16, 2019). "The New York Times Magazine Presents 'The 1619 Project' Onstage". Pulitzer Center.
• Schulte, Mark; Berk, Hannah; Mostoufi, Fareed (2019). "The 1619 Project: Pulitzer Center Education Programming". Pulitzer Center.
• Wood, Peter (2020). 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project. Encounter Books. p. 264. ISBN 978-1641771245.

External links
• Official website
• Print edition (2019 August). The New York Times Magazine.
• Podcast series (2019 August–October).
• “The New York Times’ 1619 Project.” World Socialist Web Site (2019–2020).
• "1619 v. 1776", A debate between Leslie M. Harris and John McWhorter on America's true founding (via YouTube)

Implementation in schools
• "The 1619 Project Sparks Dialogue and Reflection in Schools Nationwide." Pulitzer Center (2019 December 20).
• "1619 Project." Buffalo Public Schools (2019 December).
• "The 1619 Project and Chicago Public Schools." Chicago Public Schools (2019 September 17).
• "Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: 2019 Annual Report." Pulitzer Center (2020).
• "'Your story is in the textbooks. Ours isn’t.' Buffalo schools adopt The 1619 Project." WBFO. NPR (2020 January 17).

Categories:
• 1619 in the Thirteen Colonies
• 2019 introductions
• Historical revisionism
• The New York Times
• Slavery in the British Empire

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This page was last edited on 14 June 2021, at 04:21 (UTC).

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