"The animating idea of The 1619 Project is that our national narrative is more accurately told if we begin not on July 4, 1776, but in late August of 1619, when a ship arrived in Jamestown bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric and unprecedented system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country's original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country's very origin. The 1619 Project tells this new origin story, placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country. Orchestrated by the editors of The New York Times Magazine, led by MacArthur "genius" and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, this collection of essays and historical vignettes includes some of the most outstanding journalists, thinkers, and scholars of American history and culture--including Linda Villarosa, Jamelle Bouie, Jeneen Interlandi, Matthew Desmond, Wesley Morris, and Bryan Stevenson. Together, their work shows how the tendrils of 1619--of slavery and resistance to slavery--reach into every part of our contemporary culture, from voting, housing and healthcare, to the way we sing and dance, the way we tell stories, and the way we worship. Interstitial works of flash fiction and poetry bring the history to life through the imaginative interpretations of some of our greatest writers. The 1619 Project ultimately sends a very strong message: We must have a clear vision of this history if we are to understand our present dilemmas. Only by reckoning with this difficult history and trying as hard as we can to understand its powerful influence on our present, can we prepare ourselves for a more just future"--
This book deserves a reading because of its social influence alone. It has prompted much white backlash, which means that it is having some of its intended impact. It shows very clearly that African American voices have been silenced in the diverse American story for too long. It does so through a series of historical essays, artistic pieces, and a relentless drive for social justice. Like any book that centers on historical injustices, parts are hard to read due to their weightiness but still necessary to read because of their weightiness.
Although I am glad to have read all of the pieces in this collection, I found that some of them are not as broad in perspective as I would have liked. The last essay in particular tries to make the case that the just, moral response is economic reparations for slavery. This essay is almost wholly devoid of an assessment of practicalities. It is all “ought” and no “can.” Calls like this, while capturing the moral high-ground, can sow more racial friction than solve very real problems. I personally favor a more incremental, measured, yet deliberate approach than the author’s.
Nonetheless, these voices need to be heard precisely because they have not been heard by most of us in the past (myself included). They need to be incorporated in the mainstream American story. The goal of inclusive education says that we need to provide black Americans, many of whom are descendants of enslaved people, belonging in national history. Too much quiet shame exists among white Americans – in the former Confederacy and in the rest of the country, too. I’m glad I read this collection and hope many others will read and reflect with me.
Many wonderful essays, beautiful poetry and images interspersed. I learned a lot. Favorite quote:
"...nationalized amnesia can no longer provide the excuse. None of us can be held responsible for the wrongs of our ancestors. But if today we choose not to do the right and
Boy, was I ignorant. Boy, were we ever lied to! I learned more relevant history here than in any high school or college class.
This book is exhilarating. It will make you cry. It will make you mad! It will make you mad, and it will make you want to take action.
This is an anthology of history, challenges, and experiences that black people have lived here in the United States. Each section ends with a bit of poetry.
The history is very disturbing. When I was in school in the 60’s and 70’s these incidents were not discussed. I remember a sentence or two about lynching and the rise of the KKK – and that’s it.
It’s a combination of impossible to put down and very hard to read. I could only read a chapter a day – and then I would have to let it soak it and steel myself to go on to the next
This book has changed forever the way I see American history and blackness in America.
For me, it was a paradigm shift not only for how I see American black history, but realizing that other minorities have not had their stories told either.
I don’t know what to say beyond that. Read it.
What started as a New York Times
I'm not going to lie: this was not an easy book to read. It's all here from massacres to bombings in more recent memory to the torture, murder and institutionalized rape during the centuries of slavery. I read slowly, partially to absorb it all and partially because it was often overwhelming.