“Even dawn begins before its beginning . . .” writes poet Claudia Rankine in “The White Lion.” It is a fitting early line in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, a book comprising poetry, essays, fiction, photography, and a timeline that leads the reader through four hundred years of history, much of it rarely, if ever, told and through voices that seldom pierce the citadel of popular historical certainty.
This dawn features a ship, the White Lion, arriving at Point Comfort in the colony of Virginia in 1619, a year before the customary chronicling of the 1620 pilgrims’ landing at Jamestown. The timeline entry preceding the poem tells of the ship’s chained cargo of twenty to thirty captive Africans, who are traded to the colonists for supplies, “making them the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies that will become the United States.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones, then a staff writer at The New York Times, created The 1619 Project in 2019, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the White Lion’s arrival with its chained cargo, and to delve into the impact slavery, the enslaved and their descendants have had on the creation and development of this county. The project first appeared as a special issue of The New York Times Magazine, along with a special section in the broadsheet and a series of podcasts.
Tremendously popular, it sold out quickly. Hannah-Jones’ opening essay won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, and the Pulitzer Center, which is not related to the Pulitzer Prize, created supplemental social studies educational materials now used by thousands of educators across the country.
As an educator myself, working in and with schools and higher education institutions for more than four decades, I felt drawn to the project’s scope and depth. My work for many of those four-plus decades focused on the role of our public schools in a social and political democracy and the importance of educating all students equitably and excellently. For me, a central question has been how we can do that when we don’t know more of the whole story ourselves.
Dismayed, but not wholly surprised, I was still taken aback by the fierce criticism the initial project brought from those who did not welcome unfamiliar facts or different perspectives. Critics such as Newt Gingrich called it “a lie,” and others labeled it “a conspiracy theory.” Former president Donald Trump called it “toxic propaganda.” I knew that a history structured around great men who stood only for freedom has little room for the views for whom that freedom could not be realized. But why such strong reactions?
A small group of history scholars wrote a letter listing factual errors. One in particular pointed to Hannah-Jones’ emphasis on the role slavery played in the American Revolution. Those concerns have been addressed in the book, which has expanded beyond the newspaper version, and includes extensive documentation—more than 1,000 endnotes in addition to acknowledgements to thank the many distinguished peer reviewers.
In her preface, Hannah-Jones describes her profound astonishment when, as a high school student, she took an elective class, The African American Experience. Taught by the only African-American teacher in the school, it was filled with only Black students. There she learned of African Americans’ many contributions to this country and culture. “He taught us about Richard Allen founding the first independent Black denomination on this soil, and how hard enslaved people fought for the legal right to do things every other race took for granted, such as reading or marrying or keeping your own children. He taught us about Black resistance and Black writers. He taught us about Martin but also Marcus and Malcolm and Mamie and Fannie.” And there, through the book, Before the Mayflower, Hannah-Jones learned about the White Lion and its cargo.
Noting that “no history can ever be complete,” she still wondered why she’d never heard of this date, this ship, its cargo. “Why hadn’t any teacher or textbook, in telling the story of Jamestown, taught us the story of 1619?” She writes, “The year white Virginians first purchased enslaved Africans, the start of American slavery, an institution so influential and corrosive that it both helped create the nation and nearly led to its demise, is indisputably a foundational historical date. And yet I’d never heard of it before.”
And so, on the four hundredth anniversary of enslaved people’s landing on these shores, Hannah-Jones began to help set the record straight.
Following Rankine’s poem, eighteen themed chapters take readers deep into the ironies and contradictions of a democracy seeded by institutional slavery. Even after slavery’s official demise with passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, we see continuing and translucent permutations of those in power trying to keep Black Americans “in their place” out of fear they will have a taste of their own medicine. An underlying sense that freedom in this country is a zero-sum game adds yet another dimension: if Black Americans are allowed to raise themselves up, White Americans will lose status and power.
Irony threads itself throughout the book. How could it not given the fundamental act of enslaving people in what was to become a democratic republic? This theme jumped out as I read poetry, short fiction and essay, feeling as though I were an anthropologist studying a foreign culture. How unsettling to remind myself this culture was my own, despite my early upbringing in the Jim Crow South, and despite my years of working with schools and higher education institutions on issues of social justice. Shattering one-sided, romanticized stories of how this country came to be, in this book I encountered, not abstract notions of slavery, freedom and democracy, but beautifully rendered episodes of terrible acts of violence and inhumanity alongside grace, tenacity and courage in the poetry and fiction and thoroughly researched, well-documented historical accounts.
An early and well-known example of this irony comes in the book’s first essay, “Democracy,” written by Hannah-Jones. She describes Thomas Jefferson sitting at his desk penning the well-known words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
At the same time, a half-Black teenage boy by the name of Robert Hemings, who would never experience these rights, served at Jefferson’s beck and call. Robert Hemings and Jefferson’s wife, Martha, shared a father, but Hemings’s mother was an enslaved woman, therefore her son was enslaved. With race as the single determining factor in chattel slavery, and one drop of Black blood categorizing one a Negro, enslavement was an inherited condition, handed down for almost two and a half centuries.
Jefferson made Heming’s sister Sally his concubine. She, beginning around age sixteen, gave birth to seven children by Jefferson. Because half-Black Sally fell into the Negro classification, so did her children, who were Jefferson’s property. Four lived to adulthood, at which time Jefferson granted them their freedom.
Impregnating enslaved women, who could not resist without serious consequences, was a common and profitable practice. As Hannah-Jones writes, “Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but were considered property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold and disposed of violently.” And as such, families were regularly torn apart.
“Self-Defense,” an irony-soaked essay by historian Carole Anderson, provides a current account of how this lesser-than status still plays out. Jessie Murray, Jr., harassed and threatened by a group of white men at a bar seemingly because Murray was with his wife, a white woman. After enduring badgering and threatening gestures from the men, Murray realized there would be trouble, so he went to get his gun. Returning, he approached the door of the bar, where the white men surrounded him, punching him in the face time after time. In the melee, Murray’s gun fired and one of the white men lay dead.
This was in 2014 in Georgia, a state with a Stand Your Ground law, crafted by the National Rifle Association. Anderson writes, “The law gave a person the right, when faced with a perceived threat, to be ‘justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.’”
Thinking of that law brought Jessie Murray a brief moment of comfort—until the police arrested and charged him with felony murder. At Murray’s trial, as Anderson writes, the judge, Albert Collier, “ruled that because the gun had gone off accidentally, it was impossible to claim that Murray had been standing his ground; in other words, one could not accidentally stand one’s ground.” The judge’s second but equal point declared that “Murray clearly couldn’t have felt threatened by the white men who were beating on him. Those men were not doing anything to make Murray ‘reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party.’”
We all became aware of this tragic paradox in reverse in 2012 in Florida when George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic man, stalked and shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager. The jury ruled that Zimmerman had acted in self-defense.
Citing studies in which subjects more quickly identified weapons when cued with Black faces than with white faces, Anderson notes specifics: Black boys are seen as older and less innocent than white boys the same age; and Black people are more likely to be shot than white people who dress and act similarly. Concluding “Self-Defense,” Anderson writes, “This may be why, as shown in study after study, white people are decidedly more successful in invoking Stand Your Ground as a defense than are African Americans.”
Anderson has illustrated so well for us how this circumstance speaks to the residue of a long history of white fear of enslaved people fighting back, as white people might have done had the circumstances been reversed. Such fear led to enslaved people’s not being allowed to have weapons, learn to read or write, work for themselves, or defend themselves from white violence, among other restrictions. That is why, Anderson writes, Patrick Henry, hero of the American Revolution, stood with George Mason, another enslaver, to protest putting control and arming of the militia in the hands of a federal government dominated by states in the north that had begun to end slavery. Not only would that make a slave rebellion more likely, George Mason protested, but as Patrick Henry warned the Virginia legislature, “They’ll take your niggers from you.”
In Anderson’s essay and others we learn how delegates reached a compromise allowing enslavers to count each of the enslaved as three-fifth person for taxation and representation. This at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. The Three Fifths Compromise gave the South more seats in the House and more clout, affecting policies for decades to come, including the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which we encounter in the essay “Dispossession.”
Preceding the essay, poet Reginald Dwayne Betts captures the dispossessed in this excerpt from his poem “Other Persons.”
Does an enslaved man call
any white man Father? What care of what
happened next? My ancestors
have no name for what would
come with dawn.
Three fifths: the whole person.
Three fifths and Indians, may be
Excluded. From this Union. Excluded.
Respective of number, apportioned;
All Three fifths, Indians, all but other
Persons excluded, taxed.
History professor Tiya Miles, whose work investigates the junctures of African American, Native American, and women’s histories, authored “Dispossession.” Miles paints a complicated picture of relationships between indigenous peoples, who were “under the protection of America,” but who were continuously betrayed by the white colonizers, and the enslaved, who were not considered whole persons. “Slavery was not unknown to Native Southerners,” Miles writes, describing life “[b]efore the formation of the modern Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek Nations.” In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, hierarchical governing structures provided for “a form of slavery in which people of a lower caste (seized from other Native societies) were forced to labor for the chiefs they served.”
Yet, Miles cites historian Alan Gallay’s documenting that “at least thirty to fifty thousand Indigenous Southerners were enslaved by Anglo colonists before the year 1715.” Many of the Indigenous enslaved, often sharing auction blocks with the Black enslaved, were sent to the Caribbean, the upper South, and New England.
As Miles shows, indigenous and African people’s fates became intwined through betrayals, invasion, colonization and slavery, creating blends of not only diets and pottery, but families. But, in time, they were also pitted again each other. “Native Southerners soon recognized the difference that race made and saw that Black people were being defined as a distinct and inferior group with no hope of incorporation into the new American nation as free and respected people.”
In 1792, George Washington asked Congress for a plan for “’promoting civilization among the friendly tribes.’” Thus communal societies were forced into an individualistic approach to life that was antithetical to all they knew. Hunters became individual farmers and property owners, women spinners of thread and “‘other ‘properly’ feminine activities.” And all were expected to adopt Christianity. Further, Miles writes, “Native communities were encouraged to adopt what had emerged as a defining characteristic of civilized Euro-American society in the South: the enslavement of Black people.” Some did, yet they lost much to the white colonizers.
With the Three Fifths Compromise, the increasing voting power of Southern whites made it possible to pass the Indian Removal Act, thereby paving the way for Southern enslavers to move and expand on former Native land. Miles cites David and Jean Heidler in the book Indian Removal, “the institution of American slavery and the event of Indian Removal were, in both cause and effect, ‘twin evils.’”
Thoughtful historical accounts often brim with contradictions. The 1619 Project illustrates this repeatedly. In “Punishment,” by lawyer and professor Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, we learn that Black enslaved people were not considered fully human, unless they were accused of committing a crime. Elsewhere, we find the Black enslaved weren’t allow to become literate because they would somehow use that against their masters. They were not allowed to congregate, for coming together might result in plans to rebel. Even when religious gatherings were allowed and someone could read, the book of Exodus, in which God delivers his people from bondage, was removed from the Bible provided because enslavers feared the message it held.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, after the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, ensuring citizenship to Black people and others who were born in the United States passed, some three to five million enslaved people became citizens of this country. But because they had not been allowed to acquire property or earn money, they were penniless and homeless. Reconstruction brought the right to vote and also the guarantee of property, forty acres and a mule, to those who had provided free labor their whole lives on the forced labor camps called plantations. But, after only twelve years, when the Compromise of 1877 resulted in the removal of federal troops from the South, and the Black Codes that were precursors to Jim Crow laws began to arise, the formerly enslaved lost everything.
Such patterns, so palpable throughout the book, astounded me. Why, I wondered, hadn’t I, in all my years of schooling, become more aware of the shape of our history? Now I think, what a rich resource for students to delve into, to see a bigger picture, to look closely at the pushes and pulls of a democracy consisting of such disparate perspectives, needs, and aspirations. Can this democracy work better? And, if so, how?
Still further contradictions abound. In the chapter titled “Fear,” historian Leslie Alexander and civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander tell of Wilmington, North Carolina, where a majority-Black population was thriving. In 1894, “the Populist movement had joined with the Republican party to form the ‘Fusion Party,’ a political organization that managed to unite poor and working-class white people, formerly enslaved people and their descendants, and liberal Republicans in a movement for economic justice.” A racially diverse party, it defeated many of the old guard politicians, including a number of white supremacists and former Confederates. Then came the backlash, and it was brutal, “white Southerners wielded their most effective weapon: vigilante violence and terrorism.” Murdering Black residents and burning Black neighborhoods, they reinstated “white-rule only,” and unveiled a “White Declaration of Independence.”
Alexander and Alexander describe how all too often Black economic success and progress have encountered white rage, as was the case in the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. The Greenwood District of Tulsa, known as Black Wall Street, a highly successful, predominantly Black district fell under the wrath of more than two thousand white men and women. In an eighteen-hour rampage, they killed “as many as three hundred people and burn[ed] more than thirty-five blocks of Black homes and businesses to the ground. The attack rendered ten thousand Black people homeless and caused more than $2 million in damage.”
Fear of the racial order being upset hasn’t confined itself to political and financial success. Alexander and Alexander point to how “wearing a military uniform while Black could be enough,” and note that between 1877 and 1950 thousands of Black veterans suffered violence at the hands of white mobs, often resulting in lynchings. Military service suggests equal citizenship. How dare they?
Even veterans’ benefits were granted based on race, denying many Black veterans unemployment, housing and educational benefits. And redlining, the practice of marking maps in a way so that some neighborhoods were deemed high risk for loans and insurance reduced the possibility of Black home ownership. All of this added to the power of segregation that meant that even if a Black person’s finances proved him eligible for housing, he would likely be refused simply for the color of his skin.
All roadblocks to accruing wealth stood steadfast, ensuring that Black people would not fare as well as Whites in any arena. “Instead of wealth,” award-winning journalist Trymaine Lee writes in “Inheritance,” they pass down “mental and emotional stress that results from the constant threat of white violence and financial insecurity.”
Yet, despite the pervasive and brutal challenges recounted in The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, the tenacity and resilience of a people upon whose backs much of this country was built shines through. In part, that tenacity and resilience found nourishment in the Black church, a crucial source of community.
As professor of religious studies and Africana studies, Althea Butler, points out in her essay, “Church,” the Black church has been, in the past half-century and more, “a forum for righteous anger,” calling out the hypocrisy of Jim Crow and other racial injustices. “Forged out of slavery, it was also a place of protection and practicality.” It has also served, for many decades, “one of the few places Black people could gather for educational purposes, to arrange mutual aid groups, or to form political organizations.”
As such, it has also served as a focus of White fear and anger, which I have seen and followed in my lifetime. A long history of violence against Black churches, including burnings, bombings, and other forms of brutality continues even in recent times. Another unfathomable act occurred in 2015, when white supremacist Dylann Roof joined, then opened fire on a Bible study group, murdering nine members of one of the oldest A.M.E. Churches. This in Charleston, South Carolina, where, Butler tells us, in 1822 the same church had been burned to the ground after a member, Denmark Vesey, who had made plans for a rebellion, had been captured and executed.
We know that out of the Black church came Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Reverend Rafael Warnock, Butler writes, “stands as a bridge between the Black church, past, present, and future, and political action.” Butler notes that the Black church has a tradition of speaking truth to power, often with severe consequences. But it continues, as she affirms, intoning Reverend King’s metaphor to press for cashing “the check of true democracy and freedom.” And with that check, other groups also benefit.
Over the centuries, enslaved laborers made music while toiling in the steamy fields, Wesley Morris, writer and music, culture and film critic, tells us in his essay “Music.” They acknowledged hardships through spirituals and recalled their roots through the call and response of gospel music. Black musicians sang the blues and created jazz. Then the Motown sound emerged, and it struck a chord in Americans across the board. And that was what Berry Gordy, founder and Motown’s chief architect, was after. Morris writes, “He wanted what Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk wanted: to make American music.”
Morris describes how getting to that point dragged Black Americans through the destructive mimicry of minstrel shows—including the emergence of the Jim Crow namesake and appropriation and distortion of musical styles. A common pattern, but a counterpoint emerged through the great orators, those of the likes of Frederick Douglass, who were antithetical to the absurdity of minstrelsy. Orators, Morris writes, “often strove for betterment, for progress, for uplift, for respect, praising God for helping lead the people out of the valley toward the freedom that drove all that oration in the first place.”
We can now view how such striving for betterment, for uplift and respect has led to what appears to be progress. Prominent examples include the Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction, the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ending legal segregation, and the 2008 election of Barack Obama as president. In a speech during his second term, in part echoing Reverend King, Obama declared, “The arc of the universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.”
Not only does it not bend on its own, but humanities professor and Director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, Ibram X. Kendi, in the book’s penultimate essay, “Progress,” warns that progress isn’t simple. Our racial history is, in fact, “a dual racial history of two opposing forces: historical steps toward equity and justice and historical steps toward inequity and injustice.”
Examples proliferate throughout 1619 and in Kendi’s chapter. A mere twelve years into Reconstruction, progress came to an abrupt halt, and it wasn’t long before we had Jim Crow. After ending legal school segregation, today we have de facto school segregation. After Obama, we had Donald Trump, who was endorsed by a leading Ku Klux Klan newspaper and by David Duke, a former leader of that organization. And so the forward and back movement continues.
Kendi writes, “Inequality lives, in part, because Americans of every generation have been misled into believing that racial progress is inevitable and ongoing. That racial progress is America’s manifest destiny. That racial progress defines the arc of American history since 1619.” As Obama noted, the arc toward justice doesn’t bend by itself—and history tells us opposing forces ensure that it doesn’t bend easily or thoroughly.
“The long sweep of America has been defined by two forward motions: one force widening the embrace of Black Americans and another force maintaining or widening their exclusion,” Kendi writes. “The duel between these two forces represents the duel at the heart of America’s racial history.” Citing Black Americans’ higher unemployment and incarceration rates and lowest life expectancy, as well as median wealth compared to other racial groups, he concludes, “Until Americans unveil and halt the progression of racism, an arc of the American universe will keep bending toward injustice.”
And so, in the midst of ironies and contradictions, and a dominant culture in which a zero-sum-game mentality thrives, a central paradox appears. We must recognize the racism that exists in order to ensure justice. How can that happen if we won’t acknowledge that racism and injustice abound, enshrined in both policies and practices?
This paradox, brought painfully home by yet another racially motivated killing spree, this in a Buffalo, New York supermarket on May 14, 2022, just days before I wrote this, cries for attention. The zero-sum-game mentality, so central to Payton S. Gendron’s and others’ belief in and motivation by the Grand Replacement Theory, won’t go away until we acknowledge its roots and its terrible consequences.
The struggles of Black Americans have served and continue to serve to make democracy’s promise more real for all citizens, helping America more fully embody those words in our founding documents, “that all men are created equal.” These struggles have nudged us a little closer to realizing our aspiration of “a more perfect union.” But we have far to go and countervailing winds to overcome. As James Baldwin memorably said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story can help us understand and face truths too often swept aside. By providing essential and differing perspectives, this book’s pages fill in some of the yawning gaps of the exclusive story that has prevailed for far too long.
But just as the arc of the moral universe cannot bend on its own, a fully realized democracy can’t be achieved by mere declaration. “Democracy depends on the education and enlightenment of its citizens,” observed philosopher John Dewey. How, I wonder, can we consider ourselves educated and enlightened when only a portion of our history is recognized and accepted?
This book, with so much history and perspective so little known, raises questions I’ve long studied in an expanded light. What does it mean to be educated? What does it mean to be an educated person in a democracy, in our democratic republic? Surely it means something different from being educated in an authoritarian society in which only one sanitized version of history is allowed. To participate fully, to contribute to a democracy, citizens need to know how to reason, analyze, question, debate, explore. We need to be able to read varying accounts of history and evaluate using a range of relevant sources—and know how to discern fact from fiction.
Of my more than forty years as an educator, I spent the latter several decades in a set of overlapping organizations whose primary purpose was to work with public schools and educator preparation programs on these very questions. Formed and guided by mentor and colleague, the late John I. Goodlad, our work acknowledged the critical public purposes of schooling, in schools supported by all taxpayers, in our democracy. Our work embraced the need to equip and bring the young into full participation in this democracy. Such a goal, which is embedded, though not necessarily heeded, in every state’s academic standards, has become more challenging in these polarizing times.
In a November 2015 Education Week article, scholar and community builder, Harry C. Boyte wrote, “Revitalizing a vibrant public narrative of democracy seems crucial if the larger public is to see any strong rationale for ‘preparing students for democracy.’ Today, when democracy is so shrunken – it mainly means elections – if you say you’re ‘educating for democracy’ people think you’re talking about a voters’ guide.” Now, seven years after Boyte wrote these words, the situation has grown even more dire.
A greater sense of urgency calls for a broader community approach to learning and understanding the history of how we became the nation we are now and what that means for the present and future of this country. Thus, the importance of the Pulitzer Center’s partnership with the New York Times to create materials and learning communities around The 1619 Project. This statement from the Pulitzer Center’s website illustrates one purpose. “A New Origin Story shows [students] how critical thinking and historical research are necessary to fully understand the society around them no matter what their future goals and interests may be.” Can’t you imagine the exciting classroom discussions and debates that could come from investigating the theory of how and to what extent slavery helped unite white colonists for revolution?
Not everyone can, nor would everyone appreciate such explorations. Exemplifying Kendi’s concerns about progress, in 2020 Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act, to “prohibit federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project” in schools.” The bill did not pass. In another attempt to halt progress, the senator also called for “an overwhelming show of force” in reaction to the protests George Floyd’s murder provoked, by some estimates ninety-six percent of which were peaceful. Cotton’s fact-barren piece appeared in the June 3, 2020, New York Times Opinion section.
Offering a different point of view, in 1619’s final essay “Justice,” Hannah-Jones assesses the protests and their effects. “In 2020, something changed. The collective witnessing of what must be described without hyperbole as a modern-day lynching by an agent of the state propelled a global protest that would become the largest movement for civil rights in American history.”
Differing from much of the past in which Black people all too often protested alone, Hannah-Jones observes, “a multiracial and multigenerational protest army braved a pandemic and took to the streets.” Yet, she writes, “those heady days of promise soon gave way to the grim reality that racist systems that have undergirded our society for four hundred years do not collapse after a few months of protest.” And, in fact, Trump’s support grew as he lumped peaceful protests with the far fewer instances of riots and looting.
The former president, who labeled The 1619 Project “toxic propaganda,” called instead for “patriotic education.” He quickly assembled the 1776 Commission, a group of his allies and conservative activists which, in a matter of weeks, produced a report that seemed, among other undocumented assertions, to justify slavery and the 1787 Three Fifths Compromise that declared the enslaved less than fully human. The report, released on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was broadly denounced and ridiculed by historians and scholars and the commission disbanded when President Biden took office. The to and fro of progress endures.
In “Justice,” Hannah-Jones speaks to the importance of origin stories, writing, “Origin stories function, to a degree, as myths designed to create a shared sense of history and purpose. Nations simplify these narratives in order to unify and glorify, and these origin stories serve to illuminate how a society wants to see itself—and how it doesn’t.”
Some groups’ reactions to The 1619 Project suggest an unwillingness to see themselves through a lens not of their own making. They resist acknowledging the dawn before the dawn reified in the Jamestown story. This is not new. Nor is the continued dedication of scholars and artists who bring us face to face with a fuller history.
What is newer is the accumulating wealth of history and art available now to help us face what is necessary for progress, of which I’ve touched on only a small portion. That the beautifully rendered, ardently researched The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, lives in this world fueling a new level of discussion serves as a notable marker. And each thoughtful, curious reader of this book may help nudge that marker a little further along, thereby helping that arc move in the direction of justice.