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The 1619 Project
“This book was a true education, even coming after many recent books I’ve read on race in America. It details the history of African Americans, making clear not only how central it is to the history of the United States, but how revealing it is of our national character, past and present. Chapters of historical events alternate with poetry and fiction, adding depth and humanity to the history.”Beth,
A Great Good Place for Books
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • NPR • Marie Claire
In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.
The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.
This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction—and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.
Cover image: Lorna Simpson Beclouded, 2018 © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
Read by a full cast, including:
Nikole Hannah-Jones, January LaVoy, Claudia Rankine, Nikky Finney, Janina Edwards, Dorothy Roberts, Shayna Small, Terrance Hayes, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Yusef Komunyakaa, Eve L. Ewing, Karen Chilton, Aaron Goodson, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Erin Miles, Dominic Hoffman, Adenrele Ojo, Matthew Desmond, Tyehimba Jess, Tim Seibles, Jamelle Bouie, Cornelius Eady, Minka Wiltz, Martha S. Jones, Darryl Pinckney, ZZ Packer, Carol Anderson, Tracy K. Smith, Evie Shockley, Bryan Stevenson, William DeMeritt, Jasmine Mans, Trymaine Lee, A. Van Jordan, Yaa Gyasi, Linda Villarosa, Danez Smith, Terry McMillan, Anthea Butler, Rita Dove, Camille T. Dungy, Wesley Morris, Natasha Trethewey, Joshua Bennett, Chanté McCormick, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Ron Butler, Kevin M. Kruse, Bahni Turpin, Gregory Pardlo, Ibram X. Kendi, JD Jackson, Jason Reynolds, and Sonia Sanchez
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and creator of the landmark 1619 Project. In 2017, she received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant, for her work on educational inequality. She has also won a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards, three National Magazine Awards, and the 2018 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University. In 2016, Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization geared toward increasing the number of investigative reporters of color. Hannah-Jones is the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she has founded the Center for Journalism and Democracy. In 2021, she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.
The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the four hundredth anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It is led by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein and editors Ilena Silverman and Caitlin Roper.