News Story

Michigan English teachers use 1619 Project in professional development seminar

‘Teaching race in America’ is the theme of the Aug. 9 seminar at Oakland University

The Michigan Council of Teachers of English is promoting a professional development seminar featuring commentator Nikole Hannah-Jones and her revisionist-history 1619 Project.
The council’s Facebook page advertises for an event titled “Teaching Race in America” aimed at high school and middle school teachers. The seminar includes suggestions on how to use the 1619 Project in class, and Hannah-Jones herself will be a presenter at the Aug. 9 event.

An Oakland University announcement for the seminar reads: “How do we discuss our nation’s racial past and present in our classrooms and communities?”

It notes that Hannah-Jones will demonstrate how to use the project through sharing strategies for the classroom.

Though Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times-backed feature, the 1619 Project has come under fire for its highly selective and frequently inaccurate portrayal of America’s history. Hannah Jones’ “New Origin Story” has been the subject of several book-length rebuttals, and a group of academic historians found serious flaws with the project’s claims in an open letter published at the History News Network at George Washington University.

The January 2020 letter began by stating the scholar’s deep concerns about the project’s accuracy and its historically limited view of slavery. “We are also dismayed by the problematic treatment of major issues and personalities of the Founding and Civil War eras,” said the letter signed by twelve scholars from Yale, Princeton and other universities, who added that the project’s creators did not invite a “candid review of its assertions by the larger community of historians.”

The letter raised concerns that the project might be used in school curriculum and requested The New York Times withhold publishing and distributing the project’s contents until the concerns had been addressed thoroughly.

One of the signers is William B. Allen, emeritus dean and professor at Michigan State University. Allen did not respond to request for comment.

Hannah-Jones has also been subject to scrutiny for her often inflammatory public comments, including claims that the United States in one of the worst nations in the world for equality.

“Because the truth is we are exceptional, just in many ways that we should be ashamed,” Hannah-Jones said, according to Fox News. “And this is a fact, we are the most — one of the most unequal societies in the history of the world.”

The Michigan Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment from Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.