1619 Project Author Nikole Hannah-Jones Now Says She Never Implied That Year Was America’s True Founding
The 1619 Project is The New York Times‘ Pulitzer-winning effort to put racism and slavery at the center of the conversation about American history. The newspaper published a series of articles in August 2019—the 400th anniversary of slavery’s introduction to the English colonies in the Americas—that reframed the year 1619 rather than 1776 as the true founding of America.
It’s a provocative claim, and it came under serious criticism, along with other aspects of the project. But the project’s lead author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, is now asserting that she never made it and that anyone who believes otherwise was fooled by bad-faith right-wing critics.
“One thing in which the right has been tremendously successful is getting media to frame stories in their language and through their lens,” wrote Hannah-Jones in a subsequently deleted tweet. “The #1619Project does not argue that 1619 is our true founding. We know this nation marks its founding at 1776.” She made a similar statement on CNN as well.
But as The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf exhaustively demonstrated in a series of tweets, this is simply not true. The 1619 Project was absolutely promoted—by the Times, and by Hannah-Jones herself—as an effort to recast 1619 as the year of the country’s founding. On the newspaper’s website, a special interactive version of the project was introduced in the following manner (emphasis mine):
The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Both conservative critics and progressive fans of the 1619 Project described it this way, because that’s how the Ti
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