It’s hard to believe, but one year ago today we launched the #1619project. When I pitched it, my editors asked what I hoped for the project. I said simply: That most Americans will know the year 1619 & that it will force us to acknowledge & confront the ongoing legacy of slavery.
The project excited passions and debate, discussion and reckoning, in ways both exhilarating and hurtful, but I really want to take the time to think of how transformative this last year has been and to thank everyone who has engaged with the project and whom found it meaningful.
I was so afraid the day this project published. We’re a country that’s wanted to run from our racist history, to downplay and justify slavery and its legacy. Would this collosal effort that used so many resources to produce land in the world without anyone caring? Y’all cared❤️
To me, the intensity of the criticism is only a testament to the power of those on the bottom when we get the resources and platforms to tell our own stories and to the powerful, irreversible impact of that telling.
I remember how demeaned I always felt by the way we were taught this history as a child. I am most grateful to the educators who have introduced this project — its essays, its poems, its history special section — to their students and in doing so exposed them to another narrative
1619 is now, & I hope forever more, part of the national lexicon. It’s only in the acknowledgement of our beginnings, of the foundational role of slavery to this nation’s past & present, that we can hope to be the country of our majestic ideals. This last year has been an honor.
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