Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The New York Times’ much-scrutinized “1619 Project” who describes herself as “The Beyoncé of Journalism” and “smart and thuggish,” caused a stir online over the weekend over a series of controversial tweets, including one she ultimately chose to delete about Native Americans, and another declaring it would be an “honor” if the riots that swept the nation and left historical monuments toppled were named the “1619 Riots.”
“The [1619 Project] published online today and it is my profound hope that we will reframe for our readers the way we understand our nation, the legacy of slavery, and most importantly, the unparalleled role black people have played in this democracy,” Hannah-Jones’ penned tweet posted on August 14, 2019 reads.
Seven months later, the “1619 Project,” which has been promoted massively by The New York Times and which may be incorporated into some educational programs, was forced to issue a significant correction to one of its most foundational claims after multiple prominent historians dismantled it: Hannah-Jones’ false assertion that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.”
Though the “1619 Project” has been described by James McPherson, one of the foremost historians on the Civil War, as a “very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery,” Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer in May for her lead-in essay, the very essay that included the “vigorously disputed” foundational claim.
Since the riots first began, Hannah-Jones has been actively defending the actions of left-wing “protesters,” even giving a partial defense of the toppling of a statue of President Ulysses S. Grant, whose military leadership was crucial in finally ending slavery and who aggressively went after the Ku Klux Klan as president.
In response to a New York Post op-ed by Charles Kesler suggesting that the riots be called the “1619 Riots,” Hannah-Jones tweeted Saturday, “It would be an honor. Thank you.”
“America is burning,” Kesler’s op-ed begins. “Rioters set fire to police stations and restaurants. Looters have ravaged shops from coast to coast. And now they’re coming for the statues — not just of Confederate generals, but the republic’s Founders, including George Washington, whose statue was torn down in Portland, Ore. Call them the 1619 riots.” Arguing that a “considered answer is rarely given” by activists about the details of the “systemic racism” being violently protested, Kesler points to anger being directed at “one particular set of privileged, white males: the American Founders.” Helping to inflame that ire, he suggests, is Hannah-Jones’ “1619 Project.”
In a follow-up to her “honor” tweet, Hannah-Jones added: “Also, America isn’t burning.”
Another Saturday post that turned some heads by the Pulitzer-winner read: “Did you know Native people brought the enslaved black people they owned on the Trail of Tears?”
The post, as Twitchy notes, has since been deleted.
In response to the toppling of a statue of President Grant, Northern hero of the Civil War and strong promoter of the civil rights of freed slaves, Hannah-Jones wrote: “I think maybe Grant’s is not a statue worth toppling. But I also understand after decades of shrugs when people spoke of the hurt of having been demeaned by public tributes, of entering buildings, of walking past art that celebrated white supremacists, how overzealousness occurs.”
Hannah-Jones’s posts below:
The #1619Project published online today and it is my profound hope that we will reframe for our readers the way we understand our nation, the legacy of slavery, and most importantly, the unparalleled role black people have played in this democracy. https://t.co/yXKwnJhAf5
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) August 14, 2019
Also, America isn’t burning.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 20, 2020
"@Roseamund Did you know Native people brought the enslaved black people they owned on the Trail of Tears?" -nhannahjones pic.twitter.com/XvLziTi5C3
— For the blocked and For the record (@FTBandFTR) June 21, 2020
I think maybe Grant’s is not a statue worth toppling. But I also understand after decades of shrugs when people spoke of the hurt of having been demeaned by public tributes, of entering buildings, of walking past art that celebrated white supremacists, how overzealousness occurs. https://t.co/lTKuuYcTfJ
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 20, 2020
Related: After Backlash From Historians, NYT Forced To Issue Significant Correction To 1619 Project
This article has been revised for clarity.
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