NY Times '1619 Project' Already Shaping Schoolkids' MindsBreaking News
tags: 1619 Project
From the moment Fatima Morrell read The New York Times’ 1619 Project last year, the educator embraced the 100-page magazine special issue on slavery and racism as a professional godsend. Morrell, an associate superintendent in the Buffalo, N.Y., school district, where 80% of the 31,200 students are non-white, was inspired by the project’s reframing of American history that put the struggles and contributions of black Americans “at the very center” of the nation’s self-understanding.
“I just think it really becomes a curriculum of emancipation, a pedagogy of liberation, for freeing the minds of young people,” said Morrell, who was involved in the decision to adopt the 1619 Project as part of the district’s curriculum. “Particularly for our black children, it lets them know there actually isn’t something wrong with you. We don’t need to be self-destructive, to hate ourselves. There actually was an institution of enslavement that really put us 400 years behind in terms of where we are with prosperity.
Since its publication in August, the 1619 Project has been adopted in more than 3,500 classrooms in all 50 states, according to the 2019 annual report of the Pulitzer Center, which has partnered with the Times on the project. Five school systems, including Chicago and Washington, D.C., have adopted it district-wide. It is mostly being used as supplemental, optional classroom teaching material. By and large, school systems are adopting the project by administrative fiat, not through a public textbook review process.
Even as it is being embraced by schools, the project is facing strong pushback from some leading scholars who say it presents a false version of American history. They dispute The New York Times’ claim that America’s true founding date is not 1776, the year the colonies declared independence from Great Britain, but 1619, when 20 to 30 enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown, Va., leading to the creation of a “slavocracy” whose legacy of racism and oppression has been encoded in the nation’s DNA and hidden in plain sight.
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