History and the 1619 Project

What is the 1619 Project and why does the Gwinnett GOP oppose it?

 Nikole Hannah-Jones published the flagship article defining the 1619 project in August, 2019, in the New York Times Magazine. She was a staff writer for the magazine, not an historian. She argues that America’s true founding should be traced from 1619, the year slaves were first brought to Virginia, instead of 1776. She writes as the daughter of a Mississippi sharecropper; she describes the horrors of the Jim Crow south, of her father’s service in the Army, of her personal struggles to understand and accept her father’s patriotism. She writes of the contributions of Blacks to America, to American Freedom. She notes Jefferson, and other Founder’s, hypocrisy in writing that “all men are created equal” while continuing the practice of slavery.

She properly calls out the sin of the Supreme Court 1857 Dred Scott decision that established as a legal entity, the “Negro race” which had “no rights which a white man was bound to respect.” Slavery was abolished by the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865. In the Reconstruction period, 16 Black men served in the U.S. Congress and over 600 Black men served in Southern state legislatures. They joined with Republicans to pass laws prohibiting discrimination and reforming tax law. They established public schools throughout the South – for both Black and white. The 13th Amendment (1865) outlawed slavery; the 14thAmendment (1868) ensured citizenship for everyone born in the US; the 15thAmendment (1870) guaranteed the right to vote regardless of “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” 

This was followed by violent resistance by White Southerners, the era of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow. Nicole-Jones fails to note that these were almost entirely Democrats.

The narrative interweaves personal stories of oppression, injustice, and violence to stir the emotions. One can’t read the essay unmoved. 

Her essay presents an alternative reading of history from the Black point of view. It would be fine if that was her point.

However, the author goes much further. She claims that because some of the founders were slave holders and hypocrites, the founding documents are false, invalid. The only true history of America is her story. The true founding was in 1619. America is and always has been fundamentally racist, American economic success is solely the result of exploitation of Blacks – both during slavery and to the present day. 

The author clearly has an agenda well beyond recounting the facts of history from a Black viewpoint. For example, this quote about WW II “Just as white Americans feared, World War II ignited what became black Americans’ second sustained effort to make democracy real.”

Historians have challenged the author for numerous factual errors, including her assertion (since retracted) that the American Revolution was launched “in order to ensure slavery would continue” and that American capitalism has its roots in plantation slavery. 

The Gwinnett GOP encourages free inquiry into ideas including history. History is seen from many perspectives but must be grounded in objective historical facts and evidence. Attempts to rewrite history to promote an agenda should be understood and taught more as propaganda than as true history. 

Robert L. Woodson, Sr. founded the 1776 Unites Project to provide a conservative Black perspective on American History. Written and edited by Black Scholars including Dr. Carol Swain, Glenn Loury, Coleman Cruz Hughes, DeForest Soaries, Charles Love and Clarence Page, the curriculum is free and recommended for parents to use at home – for example, as source material for Black History studies and Black History Month.

American History is extremely important for developing good citizens. Parents should be aware of the textbooks used in Gwinnet High Schools. Some schools are using Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States” (1980). Zinn has an agenda. America’s traditional heroes are denigrated by a very selective and biased narrative. The result is that many students learn to despise America and our founders.

High Schools should rather incorporate original sources including the founder’s writings, the Federalist Papers, and balanced history textbooks such as “Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story” (Encounter Books, 2019) or Bill Bennett’s “The Last Best Hope One Volume Edition” (2019). Read these with your high school students at home – if they are reading Zinn in school this would be a real eye-opening experience discovering the difference between a conservative interpretation of history and a radical history intended to destroy our faith in America, the courage and wisdom of our founders and heroes, and the beauty of the American idea.


The Original Article at NYT: 


The American Institute for Economic Research “Fact Checking the 1619 Project and Its Critics”


Reason.com – “Public School Are Teaching The 1619 Project in Class, Despite Concerns From Historians”


1776Unites.com – American history curriculum featuring authentic stories that celebrate Black excellence, reject victimhood culture and showcase African-Americans who have prospered by embracing America’s founding ideals. 


“How Not to Teach History,” David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd. Hoover Institution, Stanford University.