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1619 Project, New York Times

Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
Yesterday's New York Times magazine section was entirely devoted to the 1619 Project, an ambitious collection of essays and art commemorating the arrival of the first enslaved people to what is now the United States. "No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the 250 years of slavery that followed," says the blurb. The writers and artists talk about the history and the enduring legacy of slavery.

What did you learn? What did you like? What did you take away?

Some quick takes:
Not a lot of the history was a surprise. Maybe none of it. I hadn't known, or maybe just hadn't considered, that in law, enslaved people were considered "things, not persons" for the purposes of rights, but people for the purposes of culpability for crimes. They had no more civil rights than your car, but they were considered capable of committing crimes and could be punished by the legal system.

Check out the the sounds and wordplay in the poem about the Black Seminoles, enslaved people who escaped south to Florida:
They slipped out deep after sunset,
shadow to shadow, shoulder to shoulder,
stealthing southward, stealing themselves,
steeling their souls to run steel
through any slave catcher who'd dare
try stealing them back north.

I'll take away the notion of calling plantations "forced-labor camps," because they were and it's more accurate.

All in all, the issue didn't teach me new ideas. It just taught me a different way to think about what I already knew.



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Replies to: 1619 Project, New York Times

  • HouseChatteHouseChatte 651 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    I skimmed some of the pieces and found a couple of compelling points, especially about the connections between slavery and capitalism, slavery and our prison system.

    Very thought-provoking, and as you said it opens my mind to ways of approaching history.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It can be fun to just dip in to the issue. I recommend the essay on criminal justice on page 81; it's a quick read, just the one page. Or take a look at the wonderful poem by Tyehimba Jess on page 58.
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  • BerneseMtnMomBerneseMtnMom 323 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    I have been following Nikole Hannah-Jones for several years. She did a "This American Life" story in 2015 about desegregation. Finding voices like hers has made my understanding more full. I am grateful for her. Her essay at the beginning was amazing.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8726 replies41 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I haven't looked at it in depth yet, but I wish they had started with slavery coming to the New World, not just the English colonies. It was likely already a practice in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, all current parts of the US, for 100 years or so already.

    Columbus planted sugar cane in the Caribbean on his second voyage, 1493-96. I guess after they killed off most of the local inhabitants, they decided to bring in slaves from Africa. A very ugly history.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I haven't looked at it in depth yet, but I wish they had started with slavery coming to the New World, not just the English colonies.

    Well, they're commemorating the 400th anniversary of enslaved people coming to the English colonies that became our country, not the anniversary of enslaved people coming to the Americas. The editors could have made a different choice, but the choice they made works. It's not like they don't have enough words to fill up the magazine, even though they restrict the work to events after 1619.
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7679 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ Well, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands became part of our country, too, albeit not at the founding. I certainly think 1619 is worth commemorating, but I also think greenwitch makes a valid point. You don't need to bring in all of the Americas, but a more comprehensive look at the entire country would provide some useful context. We tend to think of slavery starting in Virginia in 1619 and spreading from there to other colonies and later states, but in fact there were multiple routes of entry. The Dutch brought slaves to New Amsterdam (New York) in 1626., just a few years after the British brought slaves to Virginia.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If the 1619 Project had started with enslaved black people coming to the Americas, I don't see that how it would have been much different.

    It's not a history book; it's a collection of pieces. There's an essay about how a desire for racial segregation when the highway system was built makes for traffic jams now in Atlanta. There's an essay about the economics of growing cotton. There's one about how an unknown enslaved person named Antoine developed the pecan tree, and a poem about the four little black girls murdered in the Birmingham church bombing. There are pictures of young law students at Howard, with their parents and grandparents. The whole magazine skips around like that. I don't see what pushing the date earlier than 1619 would have changed, in practice.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Anyone else with comments? I know it's quiet here, but I was hoping we could have more of a discussion.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The Dutch brought slaves to New Amsterdam (New York) in 1626., just a few years after the British brought slaves to Virginia.
    At the time of the American Revolution, there were a lot of slaves in New York. At that time, it wasn't just the South.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Some people may have run out of the monthly allotment of free articles and are waiting until it resets for them.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    And here's a lesson plan on the Nikole Hannah-Jones's essay, the introduction to the whole project: http://www.pulitzercenter.org/builder/lesson/lesson-plan-exploring-idea-america-nikole-hannah-jones-26503

    It gives some good questions to think about when reading the essay. Hannah-Jones makes clear that she is trying to augment what we have previously learned about the founding of our country, and how we think about it. For example,
    What do you know about slavery, and where does that information come from?
    What do you know about the contributions of black Americans to U.S. society, and where does that information come from?
    .... What picture does Hannah-Jones paint of major figures in classical U.S. history, such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln? Did you learn new information about them from her essay? If so, why do you think this information wasn’t included in other resources from which you have learned about U.S. history?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 20
    The mention of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense on page 79 does not mention its role in getting open-carry of firearms heavily restricted in California (the Mulford Act, with bipartisan and NRA support).
    edited August 20
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The mention of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense on page 79 does not mention its role in getting open-carry of firearms heavily restricted in California (the Mulford Act, with bipartisan and NRA support).

    Isn't that what "before gun laws/ shifting in the wake of organized strength" is referring to? Gun laws shifting in the wake of the organized strength of the Black Panthers?
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  • JHSJHS 18382 replies71 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I have yet to read the whole issue. I had a lot of work over the weekend and into Monday, but I picked it up last night and started reading around. One of the common themes that was striking was the systematic post-Emancipation confiscation or devaluation of Black-owned property. I knew that intellectually, but the issue was putting it into the context of people's lives, of families that worked hard and prospered and were robbed of their prosperity.

    The Spaniards, I believe, never really developed an African slave trade. The Portuguese did, in a big way; that's why there's such a large population of African descent in Brazil. The Spaniards tended to concentrate on enslaving the indigenous population (or, in the southern cone, simply eliminating indigenous people and importing European workers for less labor-intensive projects).
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18273 replies157 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The French had an African slave trade also, in the Caribbean and Louisiana. The Caribbean sugar plantations were notoriously brutal, even in the context of chattel slavery.
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  • Snowball CitySnowball City 1724 replies51 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I have a subscription to the NYT and have been reading the series. It is very well written.

    @JHS The Spanish had a huge slave trade into South America, much of it through Cartagena, Colombia. It is estimated that roughly a million were sold there in massive slave markets. https://www.cartagenaexplorer.com/history-of-cartagena-comprehensive/

    Another major destination for captured Africans was Vera Cruz, Mexico but more in the region of a couple hundred thousand.
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  • JHSJHS 18382 replies71 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thanks for the information, @Snowball City . (That's a great web site on Cartagena, by the way.)

    This month's Atlantic magazine also has a powerful article on the expropriation of African-Americans in the 20th Century.
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  • HouseChatteHouseChatte 651 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    @JHS are you able to post a link?
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