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.
"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."
Image from nytimes.com used under Fair Use for educational purposes only
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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.
Explore the pages of this guide to learn more about the topics discussed in each episode.
Check out show recommendations on the Additional Resources page of this guide and look for the podcast icon throughout this guide to find individual episode links to related content. Many but not all episodes from other shows have available transcripts.
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 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.
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.
Image from https://nikolehannahjones.com. 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."
Nikole Hannah-Jones Interview from The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, 2/5/2020.
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.
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.