The 1619 Project: “We Must Tell the Unvarnished Truth”
Four hundred years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to the colony of Virginia, most Americans remain woefully unaware of slavery’s centrality to the founding of their country. In August 2019, The New York Times Magazine launched The 1619 Project, marking the 400th anniversary of the start of American slavery with a multimedia editorial initiative that sought to reframe the way we think, discuss, and understand this institution and its aftermath. The project catalogued the legacy of slavery in contemporary American society, as well as the contributions of black Americans in actualizing the country’s founding ideals. While the magazine issue focused on how slavery still affects key facets of America, including modern capitalism, the prison system, and rush-hour traffic, the broadsheet section focused on the history of American slavery itself. Using objects from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the section offered a visual history of slavery that most Americans haven’t learned, and an essay on why that history has not been accurately taught.