1619 Project Creator Refuses to Teach What in Her New School?
There’s little doubt in my mind that by now, you’ve most likely heard of the now infamous 1619 Project created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and sponsored by The New York Times. This is even more likely should you have school-age children or are involved in educational programming in the United States. As you will remember, the project is based on the idea that the history of the US should be rewritten to begin in the year 1619 as opposed to 1776, as this is the year that slavery was brought to the American colonies. And as such, Hannah-Jones life’s work claims that everything our nation is founded on is not as the Declaration of Independence or our Constitution implies. Instead of “liberty and justice for all,” Hannah-Jones’s theory asserts that slavery and the power it gave whites were the building blocks of our supposed ‘freedom.’ Now, as countless history books, eyewitness accounts, and no less than five prominent historians have criticized and proven, this is obviously not based on fact. But apparently, that has stopped Hannah-Jones from refusing to claim anything other than that belief. In fact, she believes this distorted reality to be so true that she has returned to her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, to start a new privately-funded school, which will, of course, focus solely on the impact of slavery in the Americas and our history, according to the Daily Caller. Per the school’s website, the “1619 Freedom School” has been designed by Hannah-Jones to “improve literacy skills and develop a love for reading through liberating instruction centered on Black American history. However, you might be shocked to hear that Hannah-Jones refuses to teach one key part of social justice warfare: critical race theory. As she quite simply stated to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, “We’re not teaching critical race theory.” Why? Well, she doesn’t really say. In a later tweet, she did expound a little, saying that the curriculum for the school was “custom-designed” by education professionals from both the University of Missouri and Georgetown and would be a “free and open source” for anyone wanting to use. Hannah-Jones further explained that the school was not directly affiliated with the 1619 project despite being named after it.
Instead, she reiterated that it was to be a “Black History literacy curriculum” that should be important to the US at a time when several states have begun to “ban the teaching of histories that center that Black experience.” And according to her tweet, her home state of Iowa is such a state. Now, to be clear, Iowa nor any other state has not banned the teaching of Black literature or any such subject that might teach the “Black experience.” However, they have outlawed education that is “divisive.” Earlier this year, Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds banned the instruction of any “divisive concepts” that would assert that any “individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” And as CRT implies that every social construct and individual be viewed through the lens of race since “America is fundamentally racist,” it has been included in the banned curriculum options. Perhaps this is the real reason Hannah-Jones has decided not to teach CRT. It could also be that even though she won a Pulitzer Prize for her creation of the 1619 Project, the idea has gained much attention over the last year, and not all of it good. In fact, her prized project has turned much of the historian field against her. Then again, with the fame of such a Pulitzer Prize, it has been noted that Hannah-Jones may feel that she’s immune to whatever criticism may come her way. After all, she dreamed up a completely nonsensical interpretation of history and not only got away with it for the most part but became famous for it nearly overnight. She just may feel that she is now entitled to whatever she likes, particularly when it comes to her own school. When questioned about the refusal to teach CRT, she said she was “completely unconcerned” about what anyone else thought of the decision. However, for those like myself, I still find it odd that one of the world’s most well-known social justice warriors is not allowing CRT in her school. Maybe all this opposition to it is finally starting to sink in. In any case, I’ll take the win…
Our curriculum, custom-designed by educators from Georgetown and the University of Missouri will be made available as free and open source for anyone who wants to teach it beginning in 2022.— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) August 31, 2021