Week Four: The “1619” Project–Post Due: Monday, Sept. 27 (by noon)

A United States border patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday.

I begin today’s post with a photograph of a Haitian man and his son being “rounded up” by an American border control agent near Mexico. This picture was not taken 100 years ago, or 10 years ago (or in 1620!), but YESTERDAY. Here is the full article on how President Biden has ordered over 15,000 Haitian migrants at the border of America to be flown back to Haiti. As we think about the Pilgrims who were our first immigrants, let us not forget that the challenges of migrating remain daunting and America is certainly not “the land of the free” beckoning “the homeless,” poor, frightened, and/or persecuted it sometimes claims to be.

Many of us take the treatment of immigrants personally. As Jubrainy writes,

Many of the people who come to America come in search of the famous “dream”. That “dream” is different for everyone, many parents sacrifice themselves to give their children the opportunity to have a better life, a brighter future, to expand the opportunities that might not be available for them in their country of origin. I … consider myself an immigrant and even sympathize with those people who struggle to go out there in search of a better life.

The story of the Pilgrims is one of courage, endurance, and deep faith in pursuit of their dream to be free to practice their religion (which America still encourages). Yet, it is also one of intolerance to those who are different and a repulsion for Native Americans — even though it was Squanto and other Wampanoags that helped the Pilgrims survive the first brutal winter. It is for this reason that some of you prefer to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Thanksgiving. Many of you, however, recognize perhaps the true meaning of this day. It’s not necessarily about a historical moment; rather, as Briana writes, “’Thanksgiving is about alliance, and abundance,’ a day that families just like the pilgrims in the video put their differences aside to come together and look back at all they’ve been through months prior.” Tenzin eloquently adds the comment: “Thanksgiving to me is the moment to take a pause and reflect on everything that I have and all the people I’m surrounded by. Life is too short to not be grateful for being able to live another day. As Covid had taught us, life is precious, being grateful can help improve physical health, mental health, enhance sleep, increase self-esteem and improve overall physical health and bring positive energy. When you bring positive energy, you can radiate positive energy around you.” Wise words indeed.

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American Literature and History is filled with difficult material, none so difficult as our next topic that has its effects to the present day. In 1619, in the southern colony of Virginia, the first enslaved Africans were introduced to North America. Eventually, slavery would spread across the colonies and remain a horrid yet legal part of our nation until the end of the Civil War in 1865 that abolished it forever.

For this week, I ask to you review the “1619 Project” which recently (and controversially) has come be part of a campaign to raise greater awareness of the history of slavery in this country. Too often understudied, understanding and coming to terms with the history and legacy of slavery in America is more important now than ever before.

First, please review the full-site of the “1619 Project”.

Read about the controversy over introducing it into High School and College curricula.

Listen: Trailer: “Introducing 1619”

Listen: Episode Two: “The Fight for a True Democracy”

Choose a line, a key point, or topic from one of these podcasts (or site) that interests you and share your thoughts about it in a post. Be sure to read earlier student posts and focus on a different topic than what others have posted on.

36 Comments

  1. Brianna

    A-lot of lines stood out to me while reading “A Fight for a True Democracy”. The fight for democracy for blacks wasn’t an easy road.

    One line that really stood out to me was “They call this new country a democracy, but it wasn’t one not yet.” which relates to the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite himself. In the Declaration Of Independence he writes, “All men are created equal.” but he had brought with him one of the many enslaved people that he owned to serve him and make him comfortable. Aware of his hypocrisy, Jefferson drafts the declaration adding in a passage in blaming the King of England for introducing slavery which i felt made no sense because he’s only blaming and did not abolish slavery. If he wanted to abolish slavery he had to start with freeing the slaves which he owns.

    Another line that stood out to me was “This was a country that was going to be based on individual rights, on a government for the people, and by the people. ” The country and government was never for the people. They were still practicing the institution of slavery. They couldn’t pick a side. Will the country abolish the institution of slavery? Or will the country continue to institution of slavery because of the wealth generated from it. They wanted to have it both ways and wrote a radical constitution.

    • sumayah

      Very interesting and deep! I agree sadly the government was never for the people, and never did anything that satisfied them.

      • Mark Noonan

        I agree with both of you. Next week we will explore Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” a bit more to further investigate its hypocrisy.

  2. Ulises

    From the Article “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools,” one of the lines that stood out to me was the following: “Arkansas Council for the Social Studies President Olivia Lewis issued a statement asking legislators to rescind the bill, along with another that would prohibit teaching certain courses on race, gender, and social justice.” It seems to me a great failure because they would be taking away knowledge and hiding a truth from every single student. In addition, as all history must be respected or studied because they are origins that built what today is the present; all that shed blood, all cried tears, all suffering that was lived, and all souls that left the body allowed us to be here today and keep fighting to keep creating history. Not teaching and repressing the 1619 Project in schools, and not only this project, but any other history moment where the horrible truth that was lived like the Pilgrims, shows the imperfection of a country, creating incomplete people, which it might cause in the future conflicts for the Insufficiency of knowledge in a general level, because it will cause a lack of historical knowledge and disagreements for it, simply by not knowing the other side of the coin, just like some wars for religion that are currently being lived in the world due to not knowing or understanding cultural differences and that no one is completely right. However, the difference between these wars and the conflicts that could cause the history prohibition of race, gender, and social justice education is that all these stories really happened and are written in a book making it legit but prohibiting this type of history would create naive and stubborn people willing to create conflicts for not knowing the truth.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very eloquently stated responses Ulises, which I hope to share with the class.

  3. Mohammed Islam

    While reading the article “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools”, a line that stood out to me was “And they echo proposals by former President Donald Trump, who, in his final few months in office, said he would ban states from teaching the project, accused history educators of teaching children to “hate their own country,” and convened a 1776 Commission to promote “patriotic education.” Looking at this quote, you can’t tell me this is shocking because it sounds exactly like something he would say. It’s not about hating one’s country but instead learning about the good and bad of the country. You can’t hide what was done and act like it never happened. If anything, learning about the true origins of the country and the real things that happened in the past is patriotic. Also, this quote stuck out to me because my 10th grade English teacher would teach about slavery, and the things that were going on in the past in America. I would think to myself why is this guy teaching about history and not English. I started realizing later on that we need to know what actually happened and how America wasn’t that great of a country. Yeah, there are ways that America can be great but with the good there’s always bad. You can’t deny that racism is a real thing and still exists. There’s so many instances that prove that. One way to be better is to educate the future on the things that matter and what not to do. We have to learn from out mistakes.

    • Mark Noonan

      Extremely well stated sentiments Mohammed.
      I really like the line:
      It’s not about hating one’s country but instead learning about the good and bad of the country. You can’t hide what was done and act like it never happened.

  4. Brian Chan

    While the article had many important key points, the article name immediately made me think. As the title implies, the article is about weather or not a specific part of our history should be taught. I think this highlights the issue of information censorship. Even today there people who deny certain historical events of ever happening. This is an issue because history is somewhat a way for us to learn from past mistakes and not plunge society backwards. One of the lines that caught my attention was when the article mentioned, “accused history educators of teaching children to “hate their own country,”. This also points out another issue. While it is important to teach each generation lessons and core values, it is equally important to teach them with no bias. With that being said, this article is a good read highlights the issues regarding education.

    • sumayah

      i agree it is so important to learn our history so we can learn!

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent points Brian which get at the true issue of “teaching the good and bad without bias”

  5. Karina

    While reading and listening to “The Fight for a True Democracy”, there were many lines that really stood out to me. As I was listening to the introduction, I was able to perceive Nikole’s emotions towards how slavery came to be. The tone in which she stated “I don’t know, thinking of what they went through. I don’ know I just wonder a lot what it was, what it was like” This alone, really puts me in her place as if this was something I personally went through. As in why did this ever have to be like this? Why enslave people and treat them any less because of their color? This isn’t fair, simply because they don’t have the resources to get the education to be someone they get treated like this? Why racism? If the tables were turned around, and white people didn’t have the resources such as money or coming from a poor family, this doesn’t make them any less. NO ONE should be treated like animals nor like property, we are all humans.
    Another line that really stood out to me was “And so what they do is they decide that they are going to try to have it both ways, and they bake that contradiction right into the Constitution, both codifying and protecting the institution of slavery but never actually mentioning the word. And so they have written what is perhaps the most radical constitution in the world, and from the beginning, they knew they were going to violate its most essential principles.” From the very beginning they were willing to continue writing these principles in which all men are created equal, even though slavery was still going to be allowed. This was not “home of the free”, it’s very controversial for them into doing this kind of treachery. This was supposed to be a country based on individual rights, on a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It wasn’t anywhere near that since the very beginning and its sad to know that this was America back then, and in a way still is now with the many immigration conflicts going on today. We need to make America better, if it s principles are supposed to be for individual rights and for the people; instead of repeating history all over again.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very poignant response Karina. I really like how you “personalize” this material and connect it to Nikole’s own emotional response. History lives in all of us and we all need to better understand the past. Well said.

  6. Enson Zhou

    After reading the article”Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” I noticed many key points. The one that stood out to me the most is “It’s important to teach students about the history of “struggle and contestation” in the United States, said Warren, the Atlanta teacher.” This stood out to me because life is not perfect and there will be times where we are struggling. If students aren’t educated on the struggle of the United States,it may plant an impression in their head that America was always perfect and had no flaws.By educating students on the struggle of people of color in the past,it will help bring light to the situation and help encourage students to fight for change. America had to face many challenges in the past and it helped build to where we are today. America is still not perfect today and will never be.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent points Enson.

  7. Paulina Vega

    A line that stood out to me was in article “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” was “The lessons aren’t designed to convince students to believe certain ideas, but rather to encourage them to question, he said: What would it mean to center the experience of Black Americans in our telling of U.S. history? What if we understood the beginning of slavery in this country as a foundational moment?” This quote stood out to me because I agree that lessons to students shouldn’t be made to make them believe in one thing only but to make them think and further ask themselves based on what they learned and to also learn new things. Lessons are made to make them explore what interests them and to see differences and similarities in anything.

    • sumayah

      its so sad that slavery still exist till this day!

    • Mark Noonan

      Great quote to comment on Paulina. Our class hopes to follow this important guiding question: “What would it mean to center the experience of Black Americans in our telling of U.S. history?

  8. Amyl

    After reading the article, “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools”, I found this line to stand out. The line reads, “Omitting difficult truths from the historical record is harmful.” The article surprises me in so many ways. The fact that states feel threatened by our history and feel that it’s necessary to censor and even ban the materials is ridiculous. The 1619 project talks about the core of slavery and the lives of those forced to live as a slave. American democracy is built on the lives of others who were sacrificed and used. The history of how America came to be was not a pretty one, but that doesn’t mean we shield it from existing. Knowing history is respecting and honoring those who lost their lives and those who fought for our freedoms. The fact that lawmakers from Arkansas, Iowa, and Mississippi claims that it misinterprets the history of the united states is shocking. Debates occur all the time when you are arguing about who is right or even on controversial topics. It’s saddening to hear how she grew up in Iowa, and it’s the very reason she started her career. Hannah-Jones writes, “That a bill now exists seeking to censor my 1619 work from other Iowa public school students is shocking & sad … Attempting to control what teachers can teach in the name of patriotism is seeking indoctrination, not education.” I agree with everything she had said; history is meant to teach, and we learn it to prevent tragedies from occurring again. It’s so disrespectful to pretend it did not happen and for those who gave their lives for the very freedom, we hold today.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very poignant response, Amy, concerning the very shocking desire by some educators and politicians to misrepresent history.

  9. sumayah

    There were many key points that stood out to me from reading the article “controversy over introducing it into High School and College”. It took my attention because unfortunately slavery still exists to this day which is so horrifying to still hear about. It makes my stomach turn that some states choose to ban certain parts of history to not teach just because they feel so called threatened??? I’m so furious that the word slavery still exists to this day. In the article, it states“It’s important to teach students about the history of “struggle and contestation”, this statement gets me angry that some schools are not teaching children the raw history; the struggle of many people that they had to go through.

  10. Mehreen Khanom

    “All propose that school districts choosing to use the curriculum lose part of their state funding, in proportion to the time and resources devoted to teaching the material”, this line from “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” caught my attention because the fact that they are blaming the school for using the curriculum is outrageous. It’s the schools’ job to teach us about the history behind slavery because there are so many things today’s world needs to know. Racism is still a huge issue today and many people don’t know the true story to this day. The goal of the 1619 project is to recast the country’s history by placing slavery and Black Americans at the core of America’s nationwide history. This project wants slavery to be the center of attention so people can gain knowledge and know the true history.

    • Mark Noonan

      Terrific job clarifying the aims of the 1619 project Mehreen.

  11. majoguadua

    “It was after the fear had turned to despair, and the despair to resignation and the resignation gave way finally to resolve. ”
    Listening to this part stood out to me. Nikole Hannah-Jones, does a really good job picking the right words to make people think about what these people had to go through, to have an idea of how was it like. I personally had no idea about this 1619 project. I am glad I know now. A project that is trying to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contribution of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” is something that needs to be spread and deserves all the attention. Even though Historians have faulted the 1619 Project for misrepresenting the causes of the American Revolution, distorting the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, discounting the contributions of White allies in the struggle for racial justice, and dismissing American aspirations of freedom and equality as hypocrisy, I think it is a project that needs to keep going and of course not banned. With information like this, I think “the more, the better”. People would judge the project by their own perspectives anyways.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very eloquent points Maria. I particularly liked how you picked up on what the well-crafted, moving manner in which the author writes about this topic.

  12. Christin

    Week 4: American literature

    Slavery was a point in time when African Americans were owned by white passing individuals, and by law, were considered “property” of their “owners”. It was a time period in which individuals were robbed of their dignity, treated extremely inhumanely and forced to do anything their owner said. In the article, “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” by Sarah Schwartz, she discusses the idea of three bills, recently introduced by state legislators in Arkansas, Iowa, and Mississippi, in which purpose a new school curriculum. This curriculum excludes “Slavery” as a lesson in History. They believe that slavery portrays America to be what its “not”. The text states, “And they echo proposals by former President Donald Trump, who, in his final few months in office, said he would ban states from teaching the project, accused history educators of teaching children to “hate their own country,”. History does not teach children to hate their country, it educates children on truth and helps understand the upbringings of America and how we got to where we are. I found this quote from the text not quite shocking at all, because it completely reflects trumps character. To further explain, I feel as if people who want to exclude slavery as part of history education, feel the need to HIDE history. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts of Americas history are taught because it sounds good or sounds bad. History is history and its based on the facts that led to today! Therefore, I feel that certain individuals who agree with excluding this part of history are trying to stray away from truth and don’t want to ruin Americas image. This is a selfish way to go about it, its almost as if people are trying their hardest not to acknowledge this point in the past, which may come off extremely offensive to many, especially African Americans. So, I did not find it at all surprising that trump would be in agreement with this due to the fact that he is a racist individual who expresses that openly to the public.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very thorough and thoughtful response Cristin on points we’ll be exploring further in our class.

  13. Amina Shabbir

    What struck me most after listening to the podcast “1619 Project: The Fight for a True Democracy” was learning about events I was unaware of. It made me realize how much we have been missing out on when it comes to American history. As Nikole Hannah-jones states that, “They were trying to leave behind an old country that they believed was antithetical to freedom and create a new one that they believe will be defined by freedom. This was a country that would be founded on individual rights, on a government of, for, and by the people, but it was also a place that was still practicing slavery at the time.” This reminds me of last year’s George Floyd incident. George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after being held for allegedly using a forged banknote. After Floyd was handcuffed during the arrest, Derek Chauvin and other officers from the Minneapolis Police Department knelt on his neck for many minutes. Two police officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, joined Chauvin in holding Floyd, while another officer, Tou Thao, prevented bystanders from interfering with the arrest and intervening as events unfolded. A blockage in George Floyd’s breathing caused his death. After Floyd’s death, there was a worldwide protest demanding that he should be given justice. As a result, the policemen involved have been suspended and are facing murder charges.

    • Mark Noonan

      Nicely handled discussion connecting the aims of the 1619 Project with the horrid murders of Floyd, Amina. Our history effects our present, particularly if we continue to avoid its darker aspects.

  14. Nelson Estrella II

    A line that stood out to me the most from the readings we had to read was from the “controversy over introducing it into High School and college”. The line that stood out was stated by Zimmerman, “I think that republicans are right when they say the 1619 Project is a threat. I just think it’s a good threat”. This was extremely confusing for me at first because how can a threat be a good one? Threats are extremely dangerous which was why I found this to be so confusing. Eventually I started to realize what they mean by threat is that the 1619 project will threaten the people who don’t approve of it. Many individuals believe that the 1619 project would be “mishandling of curriculum” but it will be very beneficial for everyone to learn about this situation not just the black children. Everyone should be taught and informed about the 1619 project and what information you can learn from it, so yes some people may not agree with It but it’s beneficial.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very subtle handling of this key quote Nelson. It’s interesting (and scary) to note that the truth can be so threatening to those who just want to deny it, for their own purposes.

  15. Ariel Montesino

    “They had been forged in trauma. they had been made black by those who believe themselves to be white.”

    I listened to the Introducing 1619 trailer and I thought it was interesting that the discussion is about slavery. Usually when I hear about slavery I think of the 1800s and Harriet Tubman escorting slaves to the north for freedom. But this project is about the start of slavery which is something I’ve never heard any discussion about. This trailer isn’t going to make me interested in listening to the podcast but I do agree with the campaign. Raising awareness and showing the impact of slavery is a good thing. Recognizing our ancestors/past relatives mistakes and moving forward is a big part of how human evolve.

  16. Harood Gresseau

    A quote that stuck to me from “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” is “Education should open our minds, not close them.” The reason why I feel like this quote is so important and impactful is because I see myself as the product of a closed-minded education system. It is my belief that education, especially between grades 1-12, does not elaborate enough on worldwide knowledge and only focuses on the parts of education that they deem important for students to know. This approach to teaching makes sense due to the time constraints given between each grade year but this can lead to the exclusion of important education, whether the information is negative or positive. The world has different cultures, ideologies, people, history, and walks of life, and only showing one perspective of that is a disservice to students. A historical event such as 1619 was never uttered to me let alone taught to me. This means not only have I missed out on knowing this vital piece of information I may have missed out on so much more. Education should create a sense of sorrow and sympathy while being informative and raw.

  17. haroodg

    A quote that stuck to me from “Lawmakers Push to Ban ‘1619 Project’ From Schools” is “Education should open our minds, not close them.” The reason why I feel like this quote is so important and impactful is because I see myself as the product of a closed-minded education system. It is my belief that education, especially between grades 1-12, does not elaborate enough on worldwide knowledge and only focuses on the parts of education that they deem important for students to know. This approach to teaching makes sense due to the time constraints given between each grade year but this can lead to the exclusion of important education, whether the information is negative or positive. The world has different cultures, ideologies, people, history, and walks of life, and only showing one perspective of that is a disservice to students. A historical event such as 1619 was never uttered to me let alone taught to me. This means not only have I missed out on knowing this vital piece of information I may have missed out on so much more. Education should create a sense of sorrow and sympathy while being informative and raw.

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