Real History Professors view of 1619

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has been in the news lately because the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill offered her a professorship, but refused to give her tenure along with it, even though the faculty review committee recommended tenure. At the center of the debate is “The 1619 Project” a historical endeavor developed by Hannah-Jones and published by The New York Times Magazine. The project sought to reframe the nation’s history by placing Black people, and the institution of slavery as well as its impact, at the center of the U.S. historical narrative. “The 1619 Project” was first published in August of 2019 in commemoration of the 400-year anniversary of enslaved Africans landing on the shores of the U.S. in Virginia.

Although lauded by many and awarded the Pulitzer for Hannah-Jones, the project immediately drew criticism from scholars and politicians. However, the greatest objections emerged when “The 1619 Project” began to be taught in grade school and college history courses with some state government’s threatening to revoke funding from schools using it in their classrooms.

A few well-known historians have been critical of “The 1619 Project,” but not because it centers slavery in U.S. history. In a letter to The New York Times they wrote: “None of us have any disagreement with the need for Americans, as they consider their history, to understand that the past is populated by sinners as well as saints, by horrors as well as honors, and that is particularly true of the scarred legacy of slavery.” They are critical because they feel “The 1619 Project” “offers a historically-limited view of slavery” and “asserts that every aspect of American life has only one lens for viewing, that of slavery, and its fall-out.”

Story continues at: Think 1619

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