The 1619 Project

While reading and analyzing the documents given in class, I found myself in a peculiar position. I didn’t know who convinced me more. The 1619 project, published by The New York Times,  is aimed to educate American citizens about the history of America, center around slavery and how it continues to impact our everyday lives. I think this is a wonderful idea considering that very few Americans probably know much about their own history. The 1619 Project was directed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who seems passionate about her idea and what it entails. However, the project gain criticism regarding its factual evidence and how much slavery contributed in the development of America. The people who criticized the project were historians, concerned that the project was spreading false information, and simultaneously pushing for a Democratic agenda. Stated by Niles Niemuth, “…the 1619 project is a politically motivated falsification of history. Its aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal ‘identities’” (Niemuth, p.1). Reading both sides of the argument made me question how history should be written to educate citizens, and who should be writing this information. Is there even a thing such as ‘good history’?

For the majority of my academic life with history, I never considered the question if there is good history. History in itselfs is mostly regarded as factual, and when we start to question the author’s motive and position in the social class that’s when our perception of history gets twisted. We can no longer state that this one event happened without numerous witnesses and evidence supporting it, and even so who are the people reporting that event? But we can’t disregard history, because it is important when forming our beliefs, values, and noticing our mistakes. One of the main criticism with The 1619 Project is that it had a very narrow lens concerning slavery, and didn’t mention many outside factors that could have contributed (Wilentz). I think that this criticism is valid, because history is intertwined, and should be taught as such. Personally I think there is no such thing as good history, because to one extent it is all bias and nothing is officially true, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. 

The idea and concept of The 1619 Project is fantastic. Every citizen should know their history, so they’ll have more respect for their country and the people around them. I don’t think The 1619 Project is just journalism, however I don’t think it’s history. It’s a little of both, from someone’s bias. It carries strong evidence, but not all the evidence. I think it should be taught in schools to a certain extent, because I don’t think it should be making strong statements about what happened in the past. Simply because we won’t ever know. I do believe that schools should be educating their students about bias, and how one idea of what happened in the past can easily change if there is new evidence found. Either way, I thought this was fantasting and really made me question what we read and consume. 

3 thoughts on “The 1619 Project”

  1. Hi Tia, I really liked your discussion about what is “good history.” Perhaps that is why we can’t ever rely on one account when learning about the past. I think the 1619 Project is very ambitious. I agree with you that the Project should be included in school curriculums with other sources, because it not only teaches students about what happened, but it also raises these questions about writing history. Great job!

  2. Hi Tia, I agree with you that the readings we were assigned were all quite convincing. Also, you touched on whether or not there is such a thing as ‘good history.’ History can be viewed differently mainly because of people. Some people think that the significance of Slavery should be shared in school but other people strongly oppose this. Is it wrong to shun History? I think not because without knowledge of past events we wouldn’t know how our world came to be. Good Job Tia!

  3. Hi Tia! You made an interesting point about “good history”. I’m conflicted about what this means. Does good history mean history that’s well-researched? Currently relevant? Extremely accurate? It’s hard to say, but it’s interesting to consider. Excellent job on this post, your points are well made, written, and justified!

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