1619 Project

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The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 which "aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of [the United States'] national narrative".[1] The project was timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the Virginia colony in 1619. It is an interactive project directed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for The New York Times, with contributions by the newspaper's writers, including essays on the history of different aspects of contemporary American life which the authors argue have "roots in slavery and its aftermath."[2] It also includes poems, short fiction, and a photo essay.[3] Originally conceived as a special issue for August 20, 2019, it was soon turned into a full-fledged project, including a special broadsheet section in the newspaper, live events, and a multi-episode podcast series.[4]

The project has sparked criticism and debate among prominent historians and political commentators.[5][6] In a letter published in The New York Times in December 2019, historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson, Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum and James Oakes expressed "strong reservations" about the project and requested factual corrections, accusing the project of putting ideology before historical understanding. In response, Jake Silverstein, the editor of The New York Times Magazine, defended the accuracy of the 1619 Project and declined to issue corrections.[7] In March 2020, historian Leslie M. Harris, who served as a fact-checker for the 1619 Project, wrote that the authors had ignored her corrections, but that the project was a needed corrective to prevailing historical narratives.[8]

In September 2020, renewed controversy arose over edits that had been made to the project without accompanying editorial notes, which critics—including Brett Stephens of the Times—claimed showed the New York Times was backing away from some of its more controversial claims.[9][10][11] In response, senior figures at the Times defended the 1619 Project and the Times' editorial practices.[9][10][12]

Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her introductory essay to the 1619 Project.[13][14]

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