Kick the ‘1619 Project’ Out of Schools

David Randall

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by American Greatness on August 7, 2020 and is republished here with permission.


America needs to get the “1619 Project” curriculum out of its schools. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has introduced a new bill that would go a long way toward that goal—the Saving American History Act of 2020 (SAHA 2020).

The New York Times introduced The “1619 Project” last August. The “1619 Project” mainstreamed the anti-American ideology of a new generation of woke activists, who have graduated from college radicalism to careers in progressive institutions such as the Times. The “1619 Project” seeks to rewrite American history with the claim that it is based on slavery and oppression, rather than on liberty and democracy, in order to delegitimize the American republic. 

The “1619 Project” claims to be “revisionist” history—but many of the best scholars of American history swiftly demonstrated that it was nothing more than a shabby, fact-free polemic. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning mastermind of the “1619 Project,” recently admitted that the effort never had a historical basis—and never even intended to be history. 

“I’ve always said that the ‘1619 Project’ is not a history,” Hannah-Jones said in a series of tweets. “It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is the past.”

Nevertheless, the “1619 Project” has had a profound impact on America’s schools. 

School districts in cities ranging from Buffalo to Chicago to Newark to Washington immediately announced that they would incorporate the “1619 Project” into their school history curriculums—using a “1619 Project” curriculum that the Pulitzer Center posted to the internet as soon as the Times published the special edition of its Sunday magazine last year. The Pulitzer Center claims more than 3,500 classrooms have adopted their curriculum.

Clearly, the project’s creators of the “1619 Project” had coordinated with the Pulitzer Center and school district leaders to transform the nation’s curricula immediately—without bothering to wait for input from parents, school boards, or historians. 

The “1619 Project” was meant to be a revolution from above, imposed on America’s children to teach them to despise their country.

We know that 1619 is a symbol of hatred for America. Wherever Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters succeed in defacing monuments or buildings, they leave behind graffiti—grotesque obscenityhammers and sickles, every sort of slogan of hatred of America—and 1619. What 1488 is to neo-Nazis, 1619 is to the America-hating Left.

The federal government is more than justified in extending a helping hand to students, parents, and teachers, to prevent them from being subjected to the anti-American “history” foisted on them by woke infiltrators in the progressive establishment.

SAHA 2020 thoughtfully prevents carefully described sources of federal funding from reaching school districts that support the “1619 Project.” School districts won’t be allowed to use federal funds for direct support for teaching the “1619 Project” initiative. Nor will they be allowed to receive any funds for professional development. 

But Cotton carefully tailored SAHA 2020 to avoid measures that would harm students who are the victims of woke administrators. No school lunch funding would be affected, nor would funding for students with disabilities—no funding would change except for these two specific funding streams.

Indeed, Cotton would be warranted in strengthening SAHA 2020 considerably, to deal effectively with the challenge posed by the 1619 Project curriculum. Cotton might amend SAHA 2020 to:

1) Define what is meant by the 1619 Project curriculum, by reference to the contents of the Pulitzer Center’s the 1619 Project Curriculum.

2) Extend the federal government’s financial sanctions to prohibit funding that supports any third-party organization or curriculum that incorporates substantial elements of the 1619 Project Curriculum, such as the Zinn Education Project or Facing History.

3) Extend the federal government’s financial sanctions to prohibit funding that supports any state-level standardized assessment that incorporates substantial elements of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

4) Draft standard procedures by which individuals and organizations may report to the Department of Education that a school district has adopted some or all of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

5) Require the Department of Education to report annually to Congress which school districts have adopted some or all of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

6) Restrict eligibility for further carefully defined Department of Education grants and programs to school districts that the Department of Education certifies as free of the 1619 Project Curriculum.

Legislation to restrict the 1619 Project Curriculum should be as rigorous as possible.

America’s future depends on knowing our true past. We must get rid of the 1619 Project Curriculum to save our children from the anti-American lies of the woke establishment.


David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.

Image: New America, Public Domain

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