In recent weeks, there has been an increased effort within the Republican Party to eliminate critical race theory from classrooms and dismiss educational endeavors like the 1619 Project. For example, state lawmakers in Idaho have pushed forth a bill that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms that receive public funding. More recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly denounced the critically acclaimed academic effort known as the 1619 Project. McConnell claims that 1619 Project Founder Nikole Hannah-Jones and her colleagues are working to "reorient" American citizens "away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda."
"Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project's many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that preserving slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution," McConnell and more than three dozen GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter last month.
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones caught wind of McConnell's remarks and opted to respond to them during an interview on CNN. Hannah-Jones has stated that McConnell's comments of her work are a mischaracterization of what the 1619 Project does. Instead, she and her colleagues have worked to place America's founding ideals in context with the nation's treacherous history with racism, economic inequality and much more.
“In fact, what I say is that despite everything this country has done to Black Americans — that Black Americans have seen the worst of America, and yet still believe in its best,” Hannah-Jones said.
Hannah-Jones has argued that McConnell's efforts to quash her project is an affront to the freedom of speech. Frankly, she was surprised that more free speech activists weren't speaking out against the Senator from Kentucky.
“This is not about the facts of history — it’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas they don’t like,” she added.
Ultimately, Hannah-Jones and her colleagues will continue to push their work to the front of discussions in and out of classrooms. The award-winning effort delivers an in-depth look into how Black Americans have continuously given to the United States while still being discriminated against.
"Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true," Hannah-Jones wrote.
“More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.”
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