Slavery's Legacy

February 12, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 6
Did The 1619 Project accurately recast U.S. history?
By Glen Justice


Amid a tense moment in racial relations, an ambitious — and controversial — journalistic endeavor known as The 1619 Project places slavery at the center of U.S. history. The goal, wrote the editors at The New York Times Magazine, which commissioned and published the project, is to chronicle slavery's impact on capitalism, education, health care and many other American institutions. Defenders of the project say it will help heal long-festering wounds by educating Americans about systemic racism and the true role of slavery in the nation's founding and development. But conservative critics deride the effort as left-wing propaganda and say the project threatens an origin story told for generations. Many historians, meanwhile, praise The 1619 Project but say it excludes other historical factors and contains some errors, such as stating that the colonists fought the American Revolution to preserve slavery. They hope the controversy over the project will raise public consciousness about slavery's legacy and evoke fresh questions about how to teach history.

Photo of 2019 ceremony in Hampton, Virginia, marking 400th anniversary of first enslaved people arriving in the U.S. (Getty Images/Zach Gibson)
At a 2019 ceremony at Hampton, Va., marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved people in what became the United States, participants toss flower petals into the water to honor Africans who died at sea during the Atlantic crossing. (Getty Images/Zach Gibson)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Racism and Hate
Aug. 13, 2021  Hate Crimes
Feb. 12, 2021  Slavery's Legacy
May 12, 2017  Anti-Semitism
Mar. 17, 2017  ‘Alt-Right’ Movement
Sep. 18, 2015  Far-Right Extremism
Nov. 22, 2013  Racial Profiling
May 08, 2009  Hate Groups
Jun. 01, 2007  Shock Jocks Updated
Jan. 07, 1994  Racial Tensions in Schools
Jan. 08, 1993  Hate Crimes
May 12, 1989  The Growing Danger of Hate Groups
Nov. 05, 1969  American History: Reappraisal and Revision
Mar. 31, 1965  Extremist Movements in Race and Politics
May 13, 1964  Racism in America
Dec. 03, 1958  Spread of Terrorism and Hatemongering
Jul. 10, 1946  Ku Klux Klan
Jan. 09, 1945  Race Equality
Dec. 19, 1933  Lynching and Kidnapping
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: African Americans
Civil Wars
Conservatism and Liberalism
Diversity Issues
Domestic Issues
Education Policy
Internet and Social Media
Journalism and the News
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Print Media
Race and Hate Crimes
Segregation and Desegregation