A new initiative from the New York Times examining the history of slavery in the US has been met with applause and criticism online. Some say the project is “long overdue” while others accuse the paper of “rewriting” history.
The 1619 Project was conceived as a way to observe the “400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery” and, in the Times’ words, to “reframe our country’s history” by placing the stories of slaves at the forefront.
The year 1619 was chosen because it was in August of that year when the first ship carrying enslaved Africans docked at a port in Virginia, still an English colony at the time.
Many on the left were quick to celebrate the newspaper’s decision, saying it had been a long time coming and was a “truly inspiring achievement.”
The long overdue telling of African American history in the NYT, and the depth, power, scholarship & excellence of that telling by largely African American writers in the #1619 project is a monumental achievement that uplifts us all. Full stop. (My God, people. Please).
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) August 16, 2019
“Americans have worked long and hard to distort and even erase the history of American slavery from our collective memory,” tweeted historian Kevin Levin, who said the project had the ability to “undercut and challenge” some of the “deepest beliefs among the general public about who we are as Americans.”
But some were less impressed by the Times’ anti-racism efforts.
Journalist Benjamin Weingarten tweeted that the true purpose of the project was to “delegitimize America” and “further divide and demoralize its citizenry.” (RT)