Skip to Main Content
University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Common Reading 2020-21: Listen. Learn. Act. The 1619 Project Podcast & This is My America

This year's theme, Listen. Learn. Act., is dedicated to learning about Black peoples and their experiences especially in the US

An Introduction to the 1619 Project and this Guide

Out of slavery — and the anti-Black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain. 

The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country. 

From NY Times Magazine's "Why We Published the 1619 Project" 

New York Times Magazine cover for the 1619 Project issue"A word of warning: There is gruesome material in these stories, material that readers will find disturbing. That is, unfortunately, as it must be. American history cannot be told truthfully without a clear vision of how inhuman and immoral the treatment of black Americans has been. By acknowledging this shameful history, by trying hard to understand its powerful influence on the present, perhaps we can prepare ourselves for a more just future.

That is the hope of this project."

The full article, "Why We Published the 1619 Project" is linked in the News & Context box to the right.

Image from used under Fair Use for educational purposes only

Acknowledging Challenging Historical Content

Read the acknowledgment of challenging historical content and answers to other FAQs such as "how content was selected for this guide."

If you have further suggestions or comments, please submit them through the form below.

Listen to the Podcast

Listen to this Year's Common Reading

"Listen" logo from the 2020 Common Reading Program with headphones floating above a neon yellow script


For the 2020-2021 academic year, the UO Common Reading Program has chosen the 1619 Project Podcast. According to "Introducing '1619', a New York Times Audio Series.". (Aug 23, 2019) this podcast examines how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling. The series is hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, produced by Annie Brown, Adizah Eghan, and Kelly Prime, and edited by Larissa Anderson, Lisa Tobin, and Lisa Chow.


The 1619 Podcast

Episodes/Pages in this Guide

Explore the pages of this guide to learn more about the topics discussed in each episode.

  1. The Fight for a True Democracy
  2. The Economy that Slavery Built
  3. The Birth of American Music
  4. How the Bad Blood Started
  5. The Land of Our Fathers, Parts 1 & 2

Want more Podcasts?

Check out show recommendations on the Additional Resources page of this guide and look for the podcast icon Podcast icon from Noun Projectthroughout this guide to find individual episode links to related content. Many but not all episodes from other shows have available transcripts.

About the 1619 Project

The 1619 Project began as a publication in the New York Times Magazine and has grown to include the audio series, an educational curriculum from the New York Times in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, additional essays (like "Is Slavery’s Legacy in the Power Dynamics of Sports?" by Kurt Streeter), interviews and talks, and other ongoing efforts.

The New York Times Presents the #1619Project

Original Essays from the 1619 Project

The links below will take you to sections of a pdf that is made freely available through the Pulitzer Center. These essays were included with the initial publication of the 1619 Project in the New York Times Magazine in August, 2019.

Information about these Essays

Use of Language

Nikole Hannah-Jones created a style guide for contributors to The 1619 Project, paying particular attention to the choice of terms used to describe the people and institutions impacted by and party to the system of slavery. Hannah-Jones has not published the style guide, but here are a few resources in which she and other discuss it.

Content from this box borrowed from the Mount Holyoke Common Read Guide.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) License

This guide has a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) License.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) License logo

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Need Help?

Chat Email Phone

About the 1619 Project Creator

Photograph of Nikole Hannah Jones seated in a high-back chair

Image from Used for educational purposes only. 

The 1619 Project began as an idea pitched by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer of the New York Times Magazine.

In 2017, Hannah-Jones received a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in "[c]hronicling the persistence of racial segregation in American society, particularly in education, and reshaping national conversations around education reform."

According to her website, "In 2016, Nikole Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization dedicated to increasing the ranks of investigative reporters of color."

Creator's Website

Watch Trevor Noah interview Nikole Hannah-Jones for The Daily Show

Nikole Hannah-Jones Interview from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, 2/5/2020. 

Reception of the 1619 Project

Since its publication, the 1619 project has had a large impact on the culture, including how and whose history is taught in schools. With something so impactful, there have been both positive and negative reactions. The Wikipedia page for the 1619 Project tracks in greater detail the Reception of this project. Below is a timeline of some of the most prominent reactions.

Aug. 14, 2019

The 1619 Project was first published by the New York Times Magazine on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ship to a location of North American continent that would later become the United States of America. The essay, "Our democracy's founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true" was published online and then in print on Aug. 20, 2019.

Dec. 29, 2019
Jan. 22, 2020
Feb. 20, 2020
March 11, 2020
May 4, 2020
Sep. 17, 2020
October 11, 2020
October 13, 2020
Oct. 19, 2020