The “1619 Project” was founded by New York Times columnist Nikole Hannah-Jones and launched in August 2019 with a 100-page spread in the Times’s Sunday magazine. It intends to “reframe the country’s history” exclusively around slavery and racism by crossing out 1776 as America’s founding date and substituting 1619, chosen to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Virginia of 20 or so indentured servants (not slaves, the Times’ fake history notwithstanding) from Africa who had been kidnapped by Imbangala warlords in modern-day Angola. Once in Virginia, they joined indentured servants from Europe brought over by the Virginia Company. The Times’ makes no reference to these facts, falsely referring to the Africans as “slaves.” The project has been celebrated up and down by the liberal establishment (Marxists, politicians, activists, and journalists), praised by Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, but consistent criticism from historians.
The Times also makes no reference to the fact that one of America’s first military engagements as a new nation was to battle African slave catchers who were capturing and enslaving Europeans and Americans on the high seas. Nor does the Times mention the free Americans of African descent such as Anthony Johnson, who arrived in Virginia in 1621 as an indentured servant. He became the colony’s first legal slave owner after a lawsuit in which the court ruled he could keep his servant in servitude for life. Johnson also owned rights to a number of European indentured servants, which the Times again conveniently omits.
According to the paper, everything including traffic in Atlanta was supposedly caused by this slavery and racism. And yet instead of “reframing,” the project rewrites history, using lies and deception. In essence, it is an elegant regurgitation of the debunked ramblings of fringe University of Houston “historian” Gerald Horne, a proud supporter of genocidal Marxist mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who murdered more Africans during his barbarous reign than all living white Americans (excluding abortionists) combined.
Even the Times’ own fact-checker, Leslie Harris, blew the whistle, saying that her corrections were ignored and that the central premise of the 1619 Project was wrong. “Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery,” she explained in Politico, adding that most of the 13 colonies employed free and slave black Americans in the fight with the promise of securing their own freedom. “Despite my advice, the Times published the incorrect statement about the American Revolution anyway, in Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay.” The paper also mischaracterized slavery in early America, she added.
The central element of the 1619 Project is the claim that “ant-black racism,” slavery, systemic oppression, and other evils are embedded “in the very DNA” of America. Of course, if America’s very DNA is evil, there can be no change in policy and no possible transformation that would make the nation redeemable. In short, under the view put forth by the Times and its project, the only possible conclusion is that America must die so that something new can replace it. That is the objective. The free-market system is painted as responsible for slavery, too. Because the narrative is based on easily disproven lies, though, a simple dose of truth can neutralize the poison — and that is already happening.
Even the first sentence of the headline of the first essay in the project contains multiple factual errors: “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written,” it says. Of course, America is not and never has been a democracy. If Hannah-Jones had bothered studying any American history, she could have read The Federalist, #10, by James Madison, the Father of the Constitution (and an enemy of slavery), to understand why he rejected democracy as a terrible form of government, and chose to create a republic instead. Instead, the project blasts the “decidedly undemocratic Constitution,” as if that were a bad thing. Also, the notion that America’s founding ideals are false implies that all men are not created equal, a self-evidently racist and ridiculous statement.
The second sentence of the 1619 Project’s opening essay title is deceptive, too. “Black Americans have fought to make them true.” Of course, Americans of all skin tones struggled in the fight, with hundreds of thousands of European-descent Americans dying in the Civil War that freed the slaves in the South. Instead of recognizing that, the racist Project demonizes “white Americans” for their supposed collective “sin” of slavery, while falsely suggesting that black Americans have been left on their own to struggle for freedom against evil “white Americans.”
Everything was going great for the Times’ false narrative, for a while. Copies of the magazine were flying off the news stands. A podcast and a school curriculum were launched to spread the propaganda further. Times’ writer Hannah-Jones, the creator of the project, even joined the paper’s disgraced Soviet propagandist Walter Duranty, who covered up a genocide for Stalin, in getting a Pulitzer Prize for publishing lies. Apparently peddling obvious and deadly communist propaganda for the Times has its benefits!
The current riots and movement to erase America’s history are exactly in line with the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which argues that America was rotten at its beginning and that slavery and systemic racism are the roots of everything from capitalism to our lack of universal health care. The resulting riots, theft, destruction, and general devastation to several major cities in the U.S. is something Hannah-Jones is proud of, responding that “it would be an honor” when a pundit commented that the rioting in 2020 should be named the “1619 Riots“.
Fortunately for America, however, the entire scandal surrounding the fake history caused parents and taxpayers everywhere — and even the President of the United States — to take a much closer look at what was being taught in government schools more broadly. Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from public schools that teach it, sparking a national conversation and ultimately announced the 1776 Commission. He identified indoctrination in public schools as the reason for the mayhem in the streets. As parents realize that their children are being strategically brainwashed with fake history as part of a plot by powerful forces to destroy America and her liberties, the repercussions and the coming backlash are likely to be even more serious.
The work has been roundly criticized, including by prominent historians James Oakes of the City University of New York, Gordon S. Wood of Brown University, Victoria Bynum of Texas State University, James McPherson of Princeton University, Oxford historian Richard Carwardine, and Sean Wilentz of Princeton University.
The whole narrative promptly crumbled. In a letter to the Times, this coalition of historians specializing in U.S. history, U.S. independence, and the Civil War demanded “prominent corrections” of “all the errors and distortions” contained in the 1619 Project. “These errors, which concern major events, cannot be described as interpretation or ‘framing,’” wrote the group brought together by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz. “They are matters of verifiable fact, which are the foundation of both honest scholarship and honest journalism.”
Historian Leslie M. Harris has also criticized the project. Harris was one of the historians who was consulted by the Times during development of the 1619 Project. She wrote in Politico that despite her warnings as to the historical inaccuracy of the idea that the 13 colonies went to war to protect slavery, that the Times was more interested in its narrative than it was with the facts, so it ran with the story anyways. Another scholarly rebuke was from Princeton historian Allen Guelzo, who criticizes the misrepresentative 1619 Project, finding that it presents:
- “slavery not as a blemish that the Founders grudgingly tolerated with the understanding that it must soon evaporate, but as the prize that the Constitution went out of its way to secure and protect. The Times presents slavery not as a regrettable chapter in the distant past, but as the living, breathing pattern upon which all American social life is based, world without end.” “The 1619 Project is not history: it is polemic, born in the imaginations of those whose primary target is capitalism itself and who hope to tarnish capitalism by associating it with slavery.”
Although multiple top historians pointed out glaring factual inaccuracies within days of its launch, their concerns were largely ignored by the NYT, except for one response from editor Josh Silverstein who essentially dismissed a letter sent by five of the historians mentioned above (professors Wilentz, McPherson, Oakes, Wood and Bynum). The letter, in part, pointed out factual errors and misleading commentary, and stated that every statement offered by the project to validate its allegation that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain in order to ensure slavery would continue, was false. Historian Gordon Wood sent a follow-up letter to NYT editor Silverstein, with permission to publish it, but which never was.
The enormity of the errors and the refusal to correct the record “suggest a displacement of historical understanding by ideology,” the historians continued. Indeed, even the most important points in the narrative are blatantly false, with no historical evidence to support them. The central narrative is that practically everything in American history, including the decision to declare independence, revolved around slavery. But that is so obviously phony, historians could not identify even a single piece of anecdotal evidence to support the charges. And that is just the mild criticism from liberals. Conservatives largely blasted it as racist, pseudo-historical propaganda, with one critic even referring to it as neo-confederate drivel.
In an email to the Daily Caller, James Oakes of the City University of New York affirmed that the NYT “has not addressed our many citations of factual errors even after the letter was sent,” and stated that “I am particularly distressed by Matt Desmond’s essay. It is based on a body of scholarship that has been subjected to severe criticism by experts in the field.. from mainstream economists to Marxist sociologists.” Desmond is a Princeton University sociologist who asserts that slavery is the foundation of capitalism, and that almost every modern business has flowed from it.2
Even a September 2019 essay for the World Socialist Web Site called the project a “racialist falsification” of history. That didn’t get much attention, but in November the interviews with the historians went viral. “I wish my books would have this kind of reaction,” Mr. Gordon Wood, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the American Revolution, says in an email. “It still strikes me as amazing why the NY Times would put its authority behind a project that has such weak scholarly support.” He adds that it is ‘So wrong in so many ways‘ and that fellow historians have privately expressed their agreement. Mr. James McPherson, dean of Civil War historians and another Pulitzer winner, coolly describes the project’s “implicit position that there have never been any good white people, thereby ignoring white radicals and even liberals who have supported racial equality.”
The radical left WSWS could not provide cover for the enormity of the errors, which pointed out that virtually no black sources (including Fredrick Douglass) were used for the 1619 Project.
Carwardine noted that the drive for immediate abolition of slavery owed much to “evangelical Protestant fervor,” and that the movement was “largely white,” discrediting another central elements of the project. “This urgent thrust towards immediate emancipation surely poses a problem for those who see racial hostility as the ineradicable DNA of white America,” the Oxford historian of America continued, adding that many white Christians were killed and were prepared to be martyred for their biblical acknowledgment of the reality that dark-skinned people were created equal and in the image of God and therefore should be liberated immediately.
In an interview with the far-left Atlantic magazine, anti-Trump activist and Princeton historian Wilentz actually expresses sympathy and support for the goals of the 1619 Project, but blasts the obvious factual errors. “To teach children that the American Revolution was fought in part to secure slavery would be giving a fundamental misunderstanding not only of what the American Revolution was all about but what America stood for and has stood for since the Founding,” Wilentz explained, adding that opposition to slavery was a “very new thing in the world in the 18th century.” Discrediting the 1619 Project’s central thesis even further, Wilentz noted “there was more anti-slavery activity in the colonies than in Britain.”
Of course, one does not need to rely on modern-day historians to understand that Hannah-Jones could not be more wrong. America’s Founding Fathers left a long list of writings in which they denounced slavery as an affront to God, human dignity, and liberty. Dr. John York at the Heritage Foundation compiled a sizable list of documented quotes proving it. “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of [slavery],” explained George Washington, the father of American, in a 1786 letter posted online from the government’s own archives. He eventually provided for his slaves to be freed and even cared for from his estate. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Mason, Jay, and plenty more made similar statements.
- “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
“The ‘1619 Project’ desperately wants to pass itself off as legitimate history, but it totally kneecaps itself by ignoring so much of the American story. There’s no mention of any black Americans who succeeded in spite of slavery, due to the free market capitalist system. In the 1619 Project’s effort to take down America, black success stories are not allowed. Because they don’t fit with the narrative. The role of white Americans in abolishing slavery doesn’t fit the narrative either,” Glenn Beck said in his video report The 1619 Project Exposed: The Agenda to Tear Down America. “The agenda is not ultimately about history,” he added. “It’s just yet another vehicle in the fleet now driven by elites in America toward socialism.”
In response to the outrageous narrative in 1619, black Americans who value truth came together behind the “1776 Unites” Initiative as an “inspirational alternative” to fight back against the anti-American slander sold by the Times. Led by Bob Woodson, the effort is dealing a devastating blow to the racist agenda of the 1619 Project, even offering a pro-America, pro-truth curriculum that can be used to teach history in high schools. The goal: “let millions of young people know about these incredible stories, African-Americans past and present, innovative, inventive, who faced adversity, did not view themselves as victims, and chose pathways to be agents of their own uplift.”
“What 1619 postures is that all of the problems facing inner-city blacks are attributed to factors that are external to that community,” Woodson said, blasting “self-flagelating guilty white people” and “angry, rich blacks” as the source of so many problems. “Explain to me how institutional racism could cause black people to fail in systems run by their own people. Tell me how that works! Nothing is more lethal to a people than to covey to them that it’s impossible for them to be agents of their own uplift.”
Federal officials also fought back. U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced a bill to block federal funds to any schools using the 1619 propaganda, which he blasted as “a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.” President Donald Trump, who blamed government-school indoctrination for the riots in the streets, announced the 1776 Commission to combat the propaganda.
Fortunately for history and America, the indoctrination of children has become a high priority for the Trump administration and other leaders. Indeed, as President Trump explained in his 2020 Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, the sort of dangerous propaganda in the 1619 Project is responsible for the ongoing demolition of society. “The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions,” he said. “Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that they were villains.”
Talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh has also taken aim at the indoctrination, warning that “left-wing activists disguised as teachers” were “poisoning” America’s children “with hatred and vile racism.” Last year, he even urged parents to get their children out of public schools. Responding to the LGBT “history” indoctrination mandates passed in New Jersey, evangelical leader Franklin Graham also warned parents that it was time to get their children out of government schools.
Even left-wing historians and educators are sounding the alarm about what is happening in America’s classrooms. In his new book How to Educate a Citizen, Emeritus Professor at the University of Virginia E.D. Hirsch highlighted the implications. “Intellectual error has become a threat to the well-being of the nation. A truly massive tragedy is building,” he warned, adding that public schools were now “diminishing our national unity and our basic competence.” “The culture is up for grabs, and elementary schools are the culture makers,” he continued.
“The idea that identity and ethnicity are inborn and indelible from birth is a false view that leads to group hostility,” Hirsch continued, calling on schools to teach true history and help create a united American culture so that children can embrace their identity as Americans rather than competing and warring factions. “The idea that there can be an American culture that everyone joins seems to be anathema to some academic thinkers. But I can’t believe it’s anathema to any normal person in the country who isn’t some social theorist.”
Instead, the 1619 Project joins communist propagandist Howard Zinn’s fake history as yet another tool for government schools to poison the minds of children and divide them from their nation and their incredible heritage. It also comes amid escalating Marxist indoctrination under the guise of “Black Lives Matter” propaganda, which has infiltrated government schools all across America. That has occurred even as the founders of the movement admit publicly that they are “trained Marxists” and that they are consulting with “ancestor spirits.” Combined with “Critical Race Theory,” “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” and hatred of America, Christianity, the nuclear family, and more, it is all a recipe for national and civilization suicide.
Of course, it is true that individuals of African heritage have been dehumanized by some individuals of European heritage. And there is nothing wrong with talking about that — in fact, it is important, and offers valuable lessons. And yet, in the entire screed against “white Americans” that is the opening of the 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones never once mentions Charles Darwin. His racist ramblings on the “favoured races” included the idea that “the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” He also claimed that differences between gorillas and darker skinned people from Africa or Australia were small, but that once allegedly superior Europeans wiped them out, the gulf would be huge. These deranged ideas inspired Nazism, Marxism, eugenics, and many other mass-murdering movements. And yet Darwin is held up to children as a hero.
Racist Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who believed in eugenics to improve the human race by eliminating people she considered “human weeds” from the gene pool, is also given a pass in the 1619 Project. No mention is made of her “Negro Project” to reduce the population of blacks. Today, the institution she created has slaughtered millions of black babies, and the death toll continues to grow daily. Nor are Times readers informed about her frequent appeals to the KKK and other white supremacist groups in the quest to reduce minority numbers. In other words, the fake anti-racist propaganda peddled by the Times ignores the real racists while demonizing those who laid the foundation for equality and liberty worldwide.
Ironically, the real racism of today is oozing out of the Times. In 2018, for instance, the paper hired virulent racist Sarah Jeong to serve on its editorial board. Among other outrages, Jeong admitted it was “kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” She also argued that “white people” are “only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” The raw, seething hatred shocked America, but the Times saw no problem with it. The paper has also been described by one of its former reporters as the establishment’s propaganda “megaphone” to sell foreign wars to Americans, primarily against “black” and “brown” people. Another liberal editor recently left, too, blasting her former employer for hostility to truth and honesty.
Hannah-Jones has also been exposed as a virulent racist herself. In a letter to the editor published in 1995, she described whites as “savages” and “bloodsuckers,” adding that “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.” Claiming Columbus was no different from Hitler, she said the collective crimes of “Europeans” were “unnecessarily cruel and can only be described as acts of the devil.” Of course, holding an entire “race” responsible for the real and imagined crimes of some individuals who share the same skin tone is the very essence of racism.
Also ironically, many of the arguments made by Hannah-Jones are exactly the same as those made by supporters of slavery such as John Calhoun. For instance, the 1619 Project falsely claims that the statement “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence only applied to those of European ancestry. This is literally the exact same claim made by Calhoun. And yet, even the briefest review of the Founding Fathers’ writings show that it is false. All Hannah-Jones has been able to do is hurl silly accusations of “racism” and being “white” at her critics. A minor correction was grudgingly made by the Times as an “update.” But the grotesque arguments used by defenders of slavery are still being peddled to children and adults.
Hannah-Jones also fails to mention several indisputable facts that completely contradict her racism narrative. For instance, immigrants to America from Nigeria tend to do better than European-descent Americans born in America. How could this be possible if America is a white supremacist society designed to keep blacks down where “anti-black racism” is in the nation’s “very DNA”? Nor does Hannah-Jones reveal that there are more black people today in America who immigrated voluntarily than were brought over as slaves after being purchased from other Africans. Why does she not mention those facts? Because it would discredit the entire premise of the 1619 Project, of course.
For her dishonesty, Hannah-Jones even received a Pulitzer Prize. But this is not the first time. Times’ Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty parroted Stalin’s obviously false propaganda to American audiences, even hiding the Soviet genocide in Ukraine that starved an estimated 10 million people to death. In 1933, he quipped about the ghoulish extermination, which he continued to deny, that “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” For those lies, he, too, received a Pulitzer. More recently, Times propagandist Herbert Matthews convinced Americans that Castro was the “George Washington” of Cuba, even as sensible Americans and even the U.S. ambassador to Havana were warning that he was a communist. That deception resulted in Cuba being enslaved unto this day.
The reality of America is practically the opposite of the depiction created by the Times and Hannah-Jones. True history reveals that America is a unique and special nation in world history, among the first to be founded on the biblical principles. This solid foundation would lead directly to the creation of the first major self-governing, godly republic since ancient Israel. And eventually, this amazing heritage would lead to the ending of legal slavery less than a century after independence. Ultimately, the then-revolutionary ideas America’s Founding Fathers enshrined in the Declaration of Independence — the “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal” — would spread liberty worldwide.
Like virtually every society throughout all of human history, it is true that some Americans originally tolerated slavery. However, it was because of America’s unique and incredible founding, and the biblical principles and worldview upon which it was founded, that the ubiquitous scourge of slavery was practically eradicated from the face of the Earth. That process began in the Christian West and then slowly spread around the globe. It took until 2007 for some African nations to criminalize slavery, and the institution is still widely practiced on the continent. But thanks to the example set by Western Christians, it is slowly dying.
The 1619 Project, then, represents a case study in flipping history upside down for Marxist purposes. As George Orwell explained, those who control the past through the teaching of history in the present will control the future. The goal of those behind the Times’ deception is to destroy America and everything it represents — especially human liberty. After all, racism is supposedly in the “DNA” of the nation. It is bad enough that paying adults are swallowing this ludicrous propaganda. To teach this hatred and false history to children should be viewed as a crime. It must be opposed. And after the 1619 Project is removed, a full-scale investigation into the poison being fed to children nationwide should ensure. America’s survival depends on getting history right.
Wallbuilders debunks the 1619 Project:
The 1619 Project Exposed by American Mind: In Part 1 of this special edition of the American Mind podcast, we explore the intellectual roots, political and societal implications of and the antidote to what the Claremont Institute believes is the great threat to America: multiculturalism. The podcast features Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams, Chairman Tom Klingenstein and scholars Lucas Morel and Chris Flannery, as well as the likes of Newt Gingrich, Allen Guelzo, Heather Mac Donald, Wilfred McClay, and Peter Wood. It is narrated by James Poulos, Executive Editor of the American Mind and produced by ChangeUp Media.