The 1619 Project — an essay collection published in last August’s New York Times magazine — has ignited intense debate about American history, raging outside the walls of academia. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first African captives landing in Virginia, the various authors the case for the central importance of slavery and African-Americans to the meaning of America. We examine how the project reinforces the traditional myths of American exceptionalism and continual progress, while casting African-Americans in the starring role of Whig history, as the embattled tribe leading the quest towards liberty. Image: Aftermath of the Tulsa race riot, 1921Suggested further reading: Edmund Morgan, “Slavery and Freedom: the American Paradox”; Michael Guasco, “Slaves and Englishmen”; Albert Raboteau, “Slave Religion: The Invisible Institution in the Antebellum South” CORRECTION: Edmund Morgan taught for 31 years at Yale, not Harvard.
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