What is The 1619 Project?
The New York Times introduced The 1619 Project in August 2019. The 1619 Project asserts that American slavery started in Jamestown in 1619 and spread from there to become the bedrock of American society. The 1619 Project claims to be “revisionist” history—but many of the best scholars of American history, including James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, and Gordon Wood, swiftly demonstrated that it was an ideologically driven polemic marred by significant factual errors that undermined its arguments. These errors included false claims that:
- American race slavery began as early as 1619.
- The American Revolution was fought to defend slavery.
- The Constitution was meant to hardwire slavery into America.
- Slavery was the basis of American wealth-creation.
- Abraham Lincoln was a racist who sought to remove black ex-slaves from America.
The 1619 Project also omitted virtually all of America’s inspiring history, including:
- America’s liberty and self-government, which traces to Jamestown and Plymouth.
- America’s tradition of white abolitionism, which culminated in the successful liberation of America’s slaves.
- America’s tradition of cross-racial cooperation.
- America’s traditional and successful preference for reform rather than revolution.
The 1619 Project also omitted the essential context for American history: virtually every society in human history depended on slavery and other systems of servitude, but only England and the United States extended a culture of liberty to encompass a national commitment to abolition. In other words, America’s commitment to liberty is exceptional in world history.
The 1619 Project’s authors, most notably Project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones, sought to delegitimize the American republic by rewriting American history as based on slavery and oppression, rather than on liberty and democracy. Hannah-Jones proudly called the riots that swept America in Summer 2020 the “1619 Riots.” The 1619 Project justifies the anti-American ideology of a new generation of radical activists, who have progressed from college radicalism to careers in progressive institutions such as the Times. The 1619 Project teaches America’s children to despise their country, to facilitate the radical establishment’s revolution from above.
Radical activists have promoted The 1619 Project in tandem with a host of allied radical movements and slogans, including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Critical Race Theory; the racist and totalitarian so-called “Antiracism”; the revolutionary “Black Lives Matter” movement; “systemic racism”; “white privilege”; the reparations movement; and the Zinn Project. The 1619 Project forwards all these related revolutionary campaigns.
Radicals Have Imposed The 1619 Project in Schools Throughout America
The radical establishment swiftly imposed The 1619 Project’s history on schools throughout America. The Pulitzer Center published a 1619 Project Curriculum as soon as the Times published The 1619 Project. School districts in cities ranging from Buffalo to Chicago to Newark to Washington, D.C. immediately announced that they would incorporate the 1619 Project Curriculum into their school history curricula. The Pulitzer Center claimed that more than 4,500 classrooms adopted their Curriculum by spring 2020. At no point have the radical elites sought approval or input from parents, school boards, or historians. It was revealed in March 2020 that they actively ignored at least one historical factchecker when preparing The 1619 Project for publication.
Fighting Back: A Legislative History
Ten bills and resolutions have been introduced so far at the state and federal level to restrict schools from using The 1619 Project Curriculum, or which cite The 1619 Project as an example of pernicious Critical Race Theory.
- United States Senate Bill 4292 (2019-2020)
- United States House Bill 8282 (2019-2020)
- Saving American History Act of 2020
- United States House Resolution 397 (2021-2022)
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Critical Race Theory serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool …
To Prohibit The Use Of Public School Funds To Teach The 1619 Project Curriculum …
An Act providing for the reduction of certain funding and budgets for public schools, community colleges, and regents institutions following the use of specified curriculum …
An Act To Prevent State Funding From Being Used By Elementary And Secondary Schools To Teach The 1619 Project Curriculum …
[Prohibits the use of the 1619 Project initiative of the New York Times in the public schools of the state.]
- South Carolina House Bill 4343 (2021-2022)
- South Carolina Academic Integrity Act
- South Dakota House Bill 1158 (2021)
Prohibit the use of curricular materials that promote racial divisiveness and displace historical understanding with ideology.
Relating to the social studies curriculum in public schools
No bill to restrict the use of the 1619 Project Curriculum has yet become law, so we cannot tell which of them is most likely to survive the inevitable legal challenge. Neither do we know what effects such laws will have if 1619 Project Curriculum supporters reintroduce the same material under another name.
Therefore, while we support state and federal legislation to restrict the use of the 1619 Project Curriculum, we believe these legislative efforts should be embedded in broader efforts such as Texas House Bill 3979 (2021-2022), which use careful wording to ban the intellectual components of the 1619 Project Curriculum. Texas House Bill 3979 bans schools from requiring instruction that “with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.” This language is likely to survive legal challenge and should ban the substance of the 1619 Project Curriculum.
States should also require all teachers to complete a one-semester American History course as a prerequisite for licensure to teach in public schools. States should require that this course include coverage of the United States’ history of liberty, including topics such as the colonial culture of liberty, the institutionalization of liberty in the American Revolution and the Constitution, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century abolitionism, and the Civil War’s expansion of American liberty to transcend race.
Social Studies Standards
Many states delegate social studies standards to their education departments. Policymakers and citizens must scrutinize these standards to ensure that they do not adopt the substance of the 1619 Project Curriculum. They must also examine state-sponsored teacher training, and every other means by which radical bureaucrats might informally smuggle in the 1619 Project Curriculum.
Americans must fight to take control of their local school districts. They must elect school board members who take active steps to ensure that teachers do not use the 1619 Project Curriculum, or any education material that informally adopts its claims.
Educators need to provide accurate histories to compete with The 1619 Project Curriculum, built out as textbooks and lesson plans that can be adopted immediately for classroom use.
School districts should adopt curriculum on African American history provided by organizations such as:
- 1776 Unites (https://1776unites.com), whose curriculum “maintains a special focus on stories that celebrate black excellence, reject victimhood culture, and showcase African-Americans who have prospered by embracing America’s founding ideals.”
- Truth In Between: Alternative Reading Guide for the 1619 Project Essays (https://truthinbetween.com/curriculums), which “takes the Pulitzer Center’s guide and adds an additional reading to each 1619 Project Essay for a more complete picture of the black American experience and contribution to American socity.”
School districts should also adopt textbooks and curricula that provide a proper narrative of American history, such as:
What’s Wrong With The 1619 Project: Further Reading
- Peter Wood, 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project
- Phillip Magness, The 1619 Project: A Critique
- David North and Thomas Mackaman, The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History.
- National Association of Scholars, The 1620 Project (https://www.nas.org/topics/1620-project)
- Slavery or Freedom: The Conception of America [conference proceedings]: (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-mariB2b6Nu3I9Ru32E45lcY2XzsL66N)
David Randall, Project Director, The Civics Alliance; Director of Research, National Association of Scholars; firstname.lastname@example.org.