One of the chief architects of The New York Times magazine’s ambitious project to anchor American history in racism defended the work Thursday morning as “patriotic.”
In a Thursday appearance celebrated by her hosts on “CBS This Morning,” Nikole Hannah-Jones said the project was rooted in principles espoused by the Founding Fathers but not observed in the breach.
“This country was founded on ideals that were’t true at the time,” Ms. Hannah-Jones told the program’s hosts.
Her words echoed those The Times published on Aug. 14 when announcing their project, which the newspaper described as an effort “to set the record straight,” launched with an essay by Ms. Hannah-Jones declaring “our founding ideals were false when they were written.”
“What could be more patriotic than that?” she asked Thursday, after portraying the project as an effort to uncover the truth.
The 1619 Project takes its name from the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship to arrive on American shores in Virginia. That is one year before religious outcasts from England landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.
Ms. Hannah-Jones reiterated The Times’ position that every aspect of American life, from health care to the federal interstate system, can be traced to slavery.
The reason the U.S. is “the only industrialized country in the Western world that doesn’t have free health care” is also a legacy of racism, Ms. Hannah-Jones contended. That majorities of white people oppose social programs that are perceived as giveaways can be traced to opposition to provide freed slaves with health care protections during Reconstruction after the Civil War, she said.
The Times has said The 1619 Project’s genesis was a magazine editorial meeting in January when Ms. Hannah-Jones, a previous recipient of a MacArthur Award for her work on race, proposed dedicating an entire issue to the advent of slaves in the U.S.
Critics have described The Times’ effort as leftist propaganda, and noted it appears to dovetail with recent remarks from Executive Editor Dean Baquet to staffers that the newspaper would work to put more stories into a narrative prism of race.
Ms. Hannah-Jones was praised by her CBS hosts.
“Congratulations and bravo to you,” anchor Gayle King said at the conclusion of the segment.