After The 1619 Project sparked a scholarly uproar over its reinterpretation of U.S. history, the longtime civil rights activist and social conservative Bob Woodson decided it was time for the public to hear from Black scholars, intellectuals and activists who rejected The New York Times’ controversial ideas.
Mr. Woodson, who broke with the civil rights movement’s leadership “in the 1970s after realizing that the agenda of ‘racial grievance groups’ like the NAACP was increasingly at odds with the actual wants and needs of the Black underclass,” created the 1776 Unites initiative.
In his view, the 1619 Project’s cynical distortions and glaring errors could not go unchallenged.
In this episode of History As It Happens, Mr. Woodson discusses his approaches to activism, the study of history and navigating America’s relentless culture wars and racial antagonisms.
“The 1619 Project really hijacked the whole moral authority of the civil rights movement and began to redefine America’s birthright,” Mr. Woodson said. “We took strong issue with that, but we didn’t want to engage in a point-by-point debate. We wanted to offer a counter-narrative.”
Mr. Woodson compiled essays authored by his roster of scholars and activists and published them in book form last year: “Red, White, and Black: Rescuing American History From Revisionists and Race Hustlers.”
“We wanted to describe in detail why the founding principles were critical to Black survival, in surviving slavery and Jim Crow,” he said. “It was the values of the nation that caused us to resist oppression.”
To listen to the full interview with Mr. Woodson, download this episode of History As It Happens.
(Note: “1776 Unites” is unrelated to former President Donald Trump’s now-defunct 1776 Commission).