NYTimes: The 1619 Project

We subscribe to the Sunday edition of The New York Times for features just like this. The 1619 Project is the entire special focus of yesterday’s NYT Magazine, and it is an amazing example of reporting, commentary, writing and exploration of a difficult topic. The premise of the entire project is that the roots of America are not traced back to 1776 and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but instead reaches back to 1619 — the year the first African slave ship hit the shores of this country and so began the horrible and disgraceful act of using people as chattel and goods.

And if 1619 represents the true start of America’s origins, the newspaper project argues, then slavery has become the key and elemental engine of all that is both bad and good in the country, as the magazine makes clear through an entire collection of essays, reporting, poetry, stories, art — all tracking the impact that slavery and African-Americans have had on culture, politics, freedom and more. Topics include Democracy, patriotism, health care, redlining housing districts, and more.

I’m not far enough along yet with my own reading to give a full review but the scope of the project is breathtaking. A collection of prominent African American writers are here, taking moments from timelines and then building off the events in creative, insightful pieces. And apparently, the newspaper will be continuing the 1619 Project into the year with more pieces unfolding.

You can access the project online and the New York Times has worked with the Pulitzer Center to create an entire website devoted to teaching and learning resources, with lessons and guiding questions and more. For example, this document has quotes from the pieces, with references and vocabulary, and inquiry questions, with an invitation for students to write their own commentary or poetry or create art.

Peace (reading it deep),


  1. I have been collecting links to articles that explore this history so added the 1619 Project link.

    You can look at the articles I’ve collected at http://tinyurl.com/TMI-BlackHistory

    Getting many more people from all parts of the country to read these, reflect, then agree on strategies and actions that negate the bad parts of this history and promote the good parts is the big/huge challenge.

    I keep looking a maps showing the distribution of Black and Hispanic Americans across the country. In many areas there are so few that it’s just not something people spend time thinking about.

    Stretching the story back to 1619 shows that where ever you live and whenever you came to this country your life has been influenced by this.

    It will take time and creative approaches to draw many to this understanding.

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