The New York Times at the end of 2019 launched the 1619 Project to “reframe” American history.
Forget any racial decency in our history. We’re rotten to the core, according to the 1619 Project.
1619, you see, was the year the first slaves arrived in the Virginia colony (it was also the year the first representative assembly was held in the colony—but the Project doesn’t bother about that).
The New York Times posits 1619 as the real year of our founding, and it was a founding steeped in racism and oppression, which are still the core of our national character.
Problem is that the New York Times Project is fact-challenged. Now, a group of respected historians, journalists and business leaders, mostly African American, are stepping forward to correct the New York Times. They call themselves the 1776 Project.
Robert L. Woodson, founder and president of the Woodson Center, which works to support neighborhood leaders and issues, is spearheading the 1776 Project. Woodson argued in the Wall Street Journal that the 1619 Project is not only based on inaccurate history and that its victimhood approach hurts African Americans.
Woodson wrote that the 1619 Project insinuates that blacks “are born inherently damaged by an all-prevailing racism and that their future prospects are determined by the whims of whites.” Not very inspiring for a young black person starting out in life. The Free Beacon explains how the 1776 Project will work:
The 1776 project will promote a series of essays and educational resources that provide an "aspirational and inspirational alternative" to the Times’s narrative. "People are inspired to achieve when they’re given victories that are possible, not always showering them with injuries to be avoided," Woodson said alongside partners at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The fatalistic narrative of the 1619 Project, which is already taught in "thousands of classrooms" across the country, according to the partnering Pulitzer Center, deprives African Americans of the agency to improve their lives, Woodson said.
"This garbage that is coming down from the scholars and writers from 1619 is most hypocritical because they don’t live in communities [that are] suffering," he continued. "They are advocating something they don’t have to pay the penalty for."
Glenn Loury, the prominent Brown University economics professor, a 1776 Project contributor, agrees with Woodson:
"The idea that the specter of slavery still determines the character of life among African Americans is an affront to me," Loury said at the Friday event. "We have shown, and will continue to show, that we are not merely bobbles at the end of a historical string, being pushed this way and that by forces beyond our control."
"I believe in America, and I believe in black people," Loury added. "Something tells me when I read that document that the 1619 Project authors don’t. They don’t believe in America … and I’m sorry to have to report, I get the impression they don’t believe in black people."
"The 1619 project offers a very crippling message to our children," said Dr. Carol Swain, a former professor of political science at Princeton and Vanderbilt University. "I was spared from having that message brought to me. And I believe that if I had been exposed to that, if I had internalized that negative message, I don’t believe I would have been able to do the things I’ve done in life."
When a group of respected historians previously launched a critique of the 1619 Project, Nicole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times, a key figure in producing the 1619 Project, called them “old white male historians.” That won’t work this time: in addition to Loury, the 1776 Project includes Carol Swain, John McWhorter, Wilfred Reilly, and Jason Hill.
The Wall Street Journal’s “Upward Mobility” columnist Jason Riley explains why the 1619 Project isn’t really even about history—it’s about ideology:
The “1619 Project” is being adopted as part of the curriculum in thousands of classrooms across the country. The political left is already in the process of turning our K-12 schools into social-justice boot camps, and this will expedite that effort.
Properly understood, the “1619 Project” isn’t about black history. It’s about today’s racial disparities. It’s about applying current ideologies to past events, in the continuing attempt to blame the past actions of whites for the current problems of blacks. Mr. Woodson understands that this is not only dishonest but damaging. Why doesn’t the New York Times?
Riley quotes another historian explaining why American history is distorted for ideological purposes:
“I think the important point to make about slavery is that it had existed for thousands of years without substantial criticism,” said the historian Gordon Wood in an interview last year. “But it’s the American Revolution that makes it a problem for the world. And the first real anti-slave movement takes place in North America. So this is what’s missed by these essays in the 1619 Project.”
Nevertheless, the New York Times continues to run ads for the 1619 Project, which will be used as instructional material in schools around the U.S.