Republican Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Schools From Teaching '1619 Project' Curriculum About Slavery
According to the senator, the initiative is racially divisive.
July 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm
In 2019, The New York Times Magazine published a long-form journalism and multimedia initiative titled the 1619 Project. Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the project documents the history of slavery in America.
But a conservative senator in Arkansas doesn't want students to get their hands on the project. According to Forbes, Sen. Tom Cotton has introduced new federal legislation to essentially ban the 1619 Project from public schools.
Cotton's legislation, titled the Saving American History Act of 2020, aims to prevent "federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary schools and secondary schools.”
According to the senator, the initiative is racially divisive and is a "revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded.”
"Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” he said.
“An activist movement is now gaining momentum to deny or obfuscate this history by claiming that America was not founded on the ideals of the Declaration [of Independence], but rather on slavery and oppression,” the proposed legislation states.
Other critics have expressed "strong reservations" about the project, according to Forbes. American scholars Sean Wilentz, Gordon Wood, James Oakes, Victoria Bynum and James McPherson said there are substantive errors in the project.
Cotton decided to stand against the initiative after the team behind the 1619 Project partnered with the Pulitzer Center to introduce the research to classrooms. The goal of the initiative is to "reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
Hannah-Jones said the project is especially important during a time where the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum.
“I think it has allowed many Americans, particularly white Americans, to connect dots that they weren't connecting before,” the author told WBUR. “That this police violence and inequality, that these aren't just unrelated incidents, but have a long and deep legacy that has to be confronted.”
The researcher is also working with Oprah Winfrey to make the project available to more people, WBUR reported.
“There are many different stories that really need to be told so that we can have a fuller version of the American project,” Hannah-Jones said. “And not just one that seeks to glorify us, but really one that seeks to challenge us.”
Jake Silverstein, the editor-in-chief of The NYT Magazine, said slavery isn't only America’s original sin but is also "the country’s very origin."
"The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country," Silverstein said in a statement.