Something strange is going on with the New York Times and the 1619 Project.
By now you’ve probably heard of the 1619 Project. It began as a special issue of the Times’ Sunday magazine to mark the 400th anniversary of African slaves being brought to the Jamestown colonies. But it’s become a multiplatform, multimedia movable feast with saturation coverage and promotion. Oprah Winfrey is going to develop it for film and television. It’s being incorporated into curriculums from grade schools to universities through the Pulitzer Center. Not surprisingly, it won a Pulitzer Prize. Or, rather, the lead author and director of the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, won in the commentary category.
It was a huge cultural event for journalism and a huge journalistic event in the culture. Critics and fans alike agree that it was agenda-setting in unprecedented ways.
Which is why it’s so odd that Hannah-Jones and the Times are quietly taking back the project’s most controversial claim: that 1619, not 1776, was America’s “true founding.”