On Sunday, President Donald Trump threatened to pull funding from schools that teach about the “1619 Project” that analyzes the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans to society.
Trump quoted another tweet on Sunday that claimed California would be teaching the project in public schools, responding: “Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!”
Some schools have said they will implement the 1619 Project into their curriculum, though it is unclear how many.
The New York Times launched the “1619 Project” in August 2019, exactly 400 years after the first Africans arrived by ship at the coast of Virginia as enslaved people who were sold to colonists. The ongoing initiative seeks to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
The project asserts that the nation’s history began when enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, rather than in 1776, and purports that Black Americans fought to make America’s democratic ideals a reality.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the project’s creator, won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2020 for her essay that introduces the project. An investigative journalist, Jones has spent years covering civil rights and race issues and called her work on the 1619 Project “the most important work of my life.”
She responded on Twitter to Trump’s threats to investigate schools for “teaching American journalism.”
The Pulitzer Center partnered with The New York Times to create educational resources and curricula to be used by educators. The curricula can be found for free online through the Pulitzer Center.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced the Saving American History Act of 2020 in July. The bill would make schools that teach the 1619 Project ineligible for federal professional-development grants.
“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” Cotton said.
Bernice King responded on Twitter to Trump’s comments, saying that teaching the project will bring the country “closer to eradicating racism.”
In December, NYT editor Jake Silverstein defended the project against critics who found the initiative historically inaccurate, saying: “While we welcome criticism, we don’t believe that the request for corrections to The 1619 Project is warranted.”