The 1619 Project - Wikipedia

A New York Times project launched in August 2019

The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. It is an interactive project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for The New York Times, with contributions by the paper's writers, including essays on the history of different aspects of contemporary American life which the authors believe have "roots in slavery and its aftermath."[1] It also includes poems, short fiction, and a photo essay.[2] Originally conceived of as a special issue for August 20, 2019, it was soon turned into a full-fledged project, including a special broadsheet section in the newspaper, live events, and a multi-episode podcast series.[3]

The New York Times has said that the contributions were deeply researched, and arguments verified by a team of fact-checkers in consultation with historians.[4] Civil War historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson, and Richard Carwardine are among those who have criticized the 1619 Project, stating that the project has put forward misleading and historically inaccurate claims.[5][6][7]

Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the 1619 Project.[8][9]

Beginning of American slavery [ edit ]

The New York Times Magazine says the project addresses "the beginning of American slavery".[10] American slavery began with slavery among Native Americans in the United States before Europeans arrived; slaves might or might not be adopted eventually, especially if enslaved as children; and the enslavement might or might not be hereditary.[11] [12] Native Americans also captured and enslaved some early European explorers and colonists, and they were enslaved themselves by the colonists, starting in Spanish Florida in the 1500s[11] under the encomienda system.[13] [14]

The first African slaves in what would become the present day United States of America arrived in 1526 with Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón's establishment of San Miguel de Gualdape on the current Georgia or Carolina coast.[15] [16] [17] They rebelled and lived with indigenous people, destroying the colony in less than 2 months.[15][18] More African slaves arrived in Florida in 1539 with Hernando de Soto, and in the 1565 founding of St. Augustine, Florida.[17][18] African slaves escaping to Spanish Florida were freed by royal proclamation in 1693 if the slaves were willing to convert to Catholicism,[19] and it became a place of refuge for slaves fleeing Colonial America.[19][20]

The first African slaves in Colonial America arrived in August of 1619. A ship carrying 20-30 people who had been enslaved by a joint African-Portuguese war[21] on Ndongo in modern Angola, landed at Port Comfort in the colony of Virginia.[22][23] These enslaved Africans had been part of a larger group heading to Mexico and were taken to Virginia after English privateers captured their Portuguese slave ship. The 400th anniversary of their arrival has been commemorated in Virginia[24] [25] and through the Year of Return in Ghana.[26]

Institutional racism [ edit ]

The authors argue[citation needed ] that the African-American citizens who make up 13 percent of the United States population[27] face institutional racism and a disproportionate amount of socio-economic and political challenges in 2019.[23][28]

History of the project [ edit ]

Based on a proposal by Hannah-Jones to have an issue of the magazine dedicated to re-examination of the legacy of slavery in America, at the anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves to Virginia, in order to challenge the notion that American history began in 1776, the initiative quickly grew into a larger project.[22] The project encompasses multiple issues of the magazine, accompanied by related materials on multiple other publications of the Times as well as a project curriculum developed in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center, for use in schools.[22] The project employed a panel of historians and support from the Smithsonian, for fact-checking, research and development.[29] 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.[30]

August 14 magazine issue [ edit ]

The first edition, published in The New York Times Magazine on August 14, published in 100 pages with ten essays, a photo essay, and a collection of poems and fiction by an additional sixteen writers,[31] included the following works:[10][32]

The essays explore the details of modern American society, such as traffic jams and American affinity for sugar, and explore their connections to slavery and segregation.[33] Matthew Desmond's essay explores the way in which slavery has shaped modern capitalism and workplace norms. Jamelle Bouie's essay explores the parallels between pro-slavery politics and the modern right-wing politics.[30] Bouie argues that America still has not let go of the assumption that some people inherently deserve more power than others.[34]

Accompanying material and activities [ edit ]

The magazine issue was accompanied by a special section on 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" was started,[33] published by The Daily, the morning news podcast of the Times.[22] The Sunday sports section had an essay that explored slavery's impact on professional sports in America, "Is Slavery's Legacy in the Power Dynamics of Sports?".[22][35] The Times plans to take the project to schools, with the 1619 Project Curriculum developed in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center.[36] Hundreds of thousands of extra copies of the magazine issue were printed for distribution to schools, museums and libraries.[23]

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.[37] The Center considers most of the lessons usable by all grades from elementary school through college.[38] The Pulitzer Center lists Common Core standards the lessons can advance in English Language Arts Literacy. Common Core does not have standards in History,[39] and the Center does not link to any standards in History.

Accolades [ edit ]

Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the 1619 Project.[40][41]

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris praised the project, via a tweet.[30] Alexandria Neason, analysing the project for the Columbia Journalism Review, said that slavery is commonly mischaracterized in American media and schools as a marginal event in American history that has little influence on the present day, and she lauded the efforts of the 1619 project to challenge this picture.[22] Fortune magazine also published a positive review, writing that the project was "wide-reaching and collaborative, unflinching, and insightful" and a "dramatic and necessary corrective to the fundamental lie of the American origin story".[32]

In a blog post for The Cato Institute, libertarian Jonathan Blanks states that, despite his reservations about historical inaccuracies in the 1619 issue, he expresses regret that "the 1619 Project is receiving over-the-top criticisms," and he describes The 1619 Project as "an important endeavor to fill the gaps in American's understanding of the nation's history."[42]

Critical response [ edit ]

The 1619 Project has been criticized by some American historians, including historians of the American Revolution Gordon Wood[6] and Sean Wilentz,[43] and Civil War experts Richard Carwardine[5] and James McPherson.[7] McPherson stated in an interview that he was "disturbed" by the project's "unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history." McPherson continued, "slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries. And in the United States, too, there was not only slavery but also an antislavery movement."[7]

Wood told an interviewer, "I read the first essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which alleges that the Revolution occurred primarily because of the Americans' desire to save their slaves. She claims the British were on the warpath against the slave trade and slavery and that rebellion was the only hope for American slavery. This made the American Revolution out to be like the Civil War, where the South seceded to save and protect slavery, and that the Americans 70 years earlier revolted to protect their institution of slavery. I just couldn't believe this." He continued, "I was surprised, as many other people were, by the scope of this thing, especially since it's going to become the basis for high school education and has the authority of the New York Times behind it, and yet it is so wrong in so many ways."[6]

Both Wood's and McPherson's remarks were published by the World Socialist Website, which claims that the 1619 project's "aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal 'identities'—i.e., gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and, above all, race."[44] The site has also published interviews on the project with historians Victoria Bynum[45] and James Oakes,[46] and promoted a lecture series critiquing the project's alleged "racialist falsification of American and world history."[44]

Professor Oakes criticized Hannah-Jones's assertion that "Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country."[47] He stated, "These are really dangerous tropes.... they're actually anti-historical. The function of those tropes is to deny change over time. It goes back to those analogies. They say, 'look at how terribly black people were treated under slavery. And look at the incarceration rate for black people today. It's the same thing.' Nothing changes. There has been no industrialization. There has been no Great Migration. We're all in the same boat we were back then. And that's what original sin is. It's passed down. Every single generation is born with the same original sin. And the worst thing about it is that it leads to political paralysis. It's always been here. There's nothing we can do to get out of it. If it's the DNA, there's nothing you can do. What do you do? Alter your DNA?"[46]

Historian Victoria Bynum, author of the historical book behind the film Free State of Jones, has also been critical of the project. She said, "regardless of how successful slaveholders were in inculcating the common people with racism, the idea that anyone 'that harbored racial prejudice was a priori historically responsible for slavery,' appears to be a rhetorical device aimed at rendering racism timeless and immutable."[45]

Historian Leslie M. Harris, who was consulted by the New York Times during development of the 1619 Project, spoke out about the misinformation used. She wrote in Politico[48] that despite her warnings as to the historical inaccuracy of the idea that the 13 colonies went to war to protect slavery, that "Despite my advice, the Times published the incorrect statement about the American Revolution anyway.”

The project has also received criticism from conservatives.[30] Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized the project as "brainwashing" "propaganda", in a tweet,[30][49] and called it "a lie" in a subsequent media appearance.[29][30] Senator Ted Cruz has also equated it with propaganda.[33] Conservative commentator Byron York, writing for the Washington Examiner, characterized the project as an attempt to reframe American history in accordance with the values of New York Times editors, as part of an alleged ongoing campaign by the paper to shift the narrative of the Trump presidency from the Trump–Russia affair toward race, in the re-election year.[36] Conservative pundit Erick Erickson also criticized the "racial lenses" deployed in revisiting history.[30] President Donald Trump, Senator Cruz and Newt Gingrich have echoed the opinions expressed by the conservative commentators.[29][30][34] The August 18, 2019, edition of the Washington Examiner said, "The 1619 project has been panned by critics as an attempt to reduce the entirety of American history to a lesson on slavery and race."[49]

A September 13, 2019 analysis in New York Magazine by Andrew Sullivan, formerly a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, critiqued the project as an important perspective that needed to be heard, but one presented in a biased way under the guise of objectivity. He declared this evidence of The New York Times' shift from impartial reporting to activism.[50]

In response to criticisms, Hannah-Jones has said that every part was deeply researched, and also analyzed by fact-checkers, in consultation with a panel of historians, verifying every argument.[33] Nancy LeTourneau, writing in the Washington Monthly, argues that the conservatives feel threatened by the project because "it challenges the totalism on which their entire world view has been constructed. It is their mindset, which monopolizes imagination and stifles alternatives, that lays the groundwork for authoritarianism".[51] Responding to a critical Letter to the Editor from five historians, New York Times Magazine editor in chief Jake Silverstein wrote: "Good-faith critiques of our project only help us refine and improve it – an important goal for us now that we are in the process of expanding it into a book."[4] When twelve Civil War historians and political scientists who research the Civil War composed a letter to The New Times Magazine expressing their concerns about the project's "limited historical view" and "problematic treatment of major issues and personalities" Silverstein, responded but the NYTM declined to publish the letter and his response. The scholars, led by Allen C. Guelzo of Princeton University, subsequently published the exchange in another venue. [52]

In February 2020, a rival project called the 1776 Project was launched to counter The 1619 Project.[53]

Correction in response to criticism [ edit ]

On March 11, 2020, Silverstein authored an "update" in the form of a "clarification" on The New York Times website, correcting part of Hannah-Jones' essay to state "that protecting slavery was a primary motivation for some of the colonists", when the original version had stated it was the main motivation of all colonists.[54]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Silverstein, Jake (December 20, 2019). "Why We Published The 1619 Project". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved January 31, 2020 .
  2. ^ Ferreira, Johanna (August 15, 2019). "The NY Times' 1619 Project Examines the Legacy of Slavery in America". Hip Latina . Retrieved August 16, 2019 .
  3. ^ "In '1619' Project, the Times Puts Slavery Front and Center of the American Experience". WNYC. August 16, 2019 . Retrieved August 16, 2019 .
  4. ^ a b Silverstein, Jake (December 20, 2019). "We Respond to the Historians Who Critiqued The 1619 Project". The New York Times . Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  5. ^ a b Mackaman, Tom (December 31, 2019). "Oxford historian Richard Carwardine on the New York Times' 1619 Project". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved February 11, 2020 .
  6. ^ a b c Mackaman, Tom (November 28, 2019). "An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times' 1619 Project". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  7. ^ a b c Mackaman, Tom (November 14, 2019). "An interview with historian James McPherson on the New York Times' 1619 Project". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  8. ^ Barrus, Jeff (May 4, 2020). "Nikole Hannah-Jones Wins Pulitzer Prize for 1619 Project". Pulitzer Center.
  9. ^ "Commentary". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University.
  10. ^ a b "The 1619 Project". The New York Times Magazine. August 14, 2019 . Retrieved August 17, 2019 .
  11. ^ a b Lauber, Almon Wheeler (1913). "Enslavement by the Indians Themselves, Chapter 1 in Indian Slavery in Colonial Times Within the Present Limits of the United States". 53 (3). Columbia University: 25–48.
  12. ^ Gallay, Alan (2009). "Introduction: Indian Slavery in Historical Context". In Gallay, Alan (ed.). Indian Slavery in Colonial America. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 1–32 . Retrieved March 8, 2017 .
  13. ^ Guitar, Lynne, No More Negotiation: Slavery and the Destabilization of Colonial Hispaniola's Encomienda System, by Lynne Guitar , retrieved December 6, 2019
  14. ^ Indian Slavery in the Americas- AP US History Study Guide from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, March 22, 2012 , retrieved December 6, 2019
  15. ^ a b Cameron, Guy, and Stephen Vermette; Vermette, Stephen (2012). "The Role of Extreme Cold in the Failure of the San Miguel de Gualdape Colony". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 96 (3): 291–307. ISSN 0016-8297. JSTOR 23622193.
  16. ^ Parker, Susan (August 24, 2019). " ' 1619 Project' ignores fact that slaves were present in Florida decades before". St. Augustine Record . Retrieved December 6, 2019 .
  17. ^ a b Francis, J. Michael, Gary Mormino and Rachel Sanderson (August 29, 2019). "Slavery took hold in Florida under the Spanish in the 'forgotten century' of 1492-1619". Tampa Bay Times . Retrieved December 6, 2019 .
  18. ^ a b Torres-Spelliscy, Ciara; Law, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of; Br, the author of "Political; s." (August 23, 2019). "Perspective - Everyone is talking about 1619. But that's not actually when slavery in America started". Washington Post . Retrieved December 6, 2019 .
  19. ^ a b Hankerson, Derek (January 2, 2008). "The journey of Africans to St. Augustine, Florida and the establishment of the underground railway". Patriotic Vanguard . Retrieved December 6, 2019 .
  20. ^ Gardner, Sheldon (May 20, 2019). "St. Augustine's Fort Mose added to UNESCO Slave Route Project". St. Augustine record . Retrieved December 6, 2019 .
  21. ^ Painter, Nell Irvin. (2006). Creating Black Americans: African-American history and its meanings, 1619 to the present. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 23-24. ISBN 0-19-513755-8. OCLC 57722517.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Neason, Alexandria (August 15, 2019). "The 1619 Project and the stories we tell about slavery" . Retrieved August 17, 2019 .
  23. ^ a b c Gyarkye, Lovia (August 18, 2019). "How the 1619 Project Came Together". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved August 19, 2019 .
  24. ^ Schneider, Gregory (August 24, 2019). "Virginia marks the dawn of American slavery in 1619 with solemn speeches and songs". The Washington Post . Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  25. ^ Harmeet Kaur; Natasha Chen. "Thousands of people gather to commemorate 400 years since American slavery began". CNN . Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  26. ^ "2019: Year of return for African Diaspora | Africa Renewal". . Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  27. ^ "QuickFacts – United States". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved September 30, 2019 .
  28. ^ "World Report 2019: Rights Trends in the United States". Human Rights Watch. December 20, 2018 . Retrieved August 19, 2019 .
  29. ^ a b c Tharoor, Ishaan (August 20, 2019). "The 1619 Project and the far-right fear of history". The Washington Post . Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h Charles, J. Brian (August 19, 2019). "Why conservatives are bothered by the New York Times' project on slavery". Vox . Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  31. ^ Geraghty, Jim (August 20, 2019). "What The 1619 Project Leaves Out". National Review . Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  32. ^ a b c McGirt, Ellen (August 14, 2019). "The New York Times Launches the 1619 Project: raceAhead" . Retrieved August 17, 2019 .
  33. ^ a b c d Asmelash, Leah (August 19, 2019). "The New York Times Magazine's 1619 Project takes a hard look at the American paradox of freedom and slavery". CNN . Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  34. ^ a b Covucci, David (August 19, 2019). "Conservatives are livid the New York Times is writing articles about slavery". The Daily Dot . Retrieved August 21, 2019 .
  35. ^ Kurt Streeter (July 18, 2019). "Is Slavery's Legacy in the Power Dynamics of Sports? - The New York Times". . Retrieved August 23, 2019 .
  36. ^ a b "New goal for New York Times: 'Reframe' American history, and target Trump, too". Washington Examiner. August 17, 2019 . Retrieved August 18, 2019 .
  37. ^ "The 1619 Project Curriculum". Pulitzer Center . Retrieved May 4, 2020 .
  38. ^ "Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder". Pulitzer Center . Retrieved May 4, 2020 .
  39. ^ "Read the Standards, Common Core State Standards Initiative". . Retrieved May 4, 2020 .
  40. ^ Barrus, Jeff (May 4, 2020). "Nikole Hannah-Jones Wins Pulitzer Prize for 1619 Project". Pulitzer Center.
  41. ^ "Commentary". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University.
  42. ^ Blanks, Jonathan (August 19, 2019). "The 1619 Project: Confronting the Legacies of American Slavery". Cato Institute. Cato Institute . Retrieved October 17, 2019 .
  43. ^ A Matter of Facts
  44. ^ a b Niemuth, Niles; Mackaman, Tom; North, David (September 6, 2019). "The New York Times's 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  45. ^ a b London, Eric (October 30, 2019). "Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  46. ^ a b Mackaman, Tom (November 18, 2019). "An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times' 1619 Project". World Socialist Web Site . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  47. ^ Hannah-Jones, Nikole (August 14, 2019). "America Wasn't a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved November 28, 2019 .
  48. ^ I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me.
  49. ^ a b "Gingrich spurns New York Times history project as 'propaganda ' ". Washington Examiner. August 18, 2019 . Retrieved August 19, 2019 .
  50. ^ "The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism". New York Magazine. September 13, 2019 . Retrieved October 2, 2019 .
  51. ^ LeTourneau, Nancy (August 22, 2019). "Why Are Conservatives So Threatened by the 1619 Project?". Washington Monthly . Retrieved August 27, 2019 .
  52. ^ "Twelve Scholars Critique the 1619 Project and the New York Times Magazine Editor Responds". History News Network. Columbia College of Arts & Sciences, The George Washington University.
  53. ^ Reilly, Wilfred (February 17, 2020). "Sorry, New York Times, but America began in 1776". Quillette . Retrieved February 28, 2020 .
  54. ^ Silverstein, Jake (March 11, 2020). "An Update to The 1619 Project". The New York Times . Retrieved March 12, 2020 .

Further reading [ edit ]

External links [ edit ]