Project 1619 Developer Questions Parent’s Right to Decide What Is Taught to Children

Syda Productions/
Syda Productions/

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the author of The 1619 Project. This is a long-form journalism project developed by Hannah-Jones with other writers from The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine. They aim to reframe the country’s history by placing the results of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of the country’s national narrative. 

Hannah-Jones recently said that she did not understand the notion of parents having a say in what their children should be taught in public school. This position is similar to comments made earlier in the year by Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia. 

“I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught. I’m not a professional educator. I don’t have a degree in social studies or science. We send our children to school because we want them to be taught by people who have expertise in the subject area,” Hannah-Jones said. She made these comments during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hannah-Jones made these comments after McAuliffe said that he did not think parents should be telling schools what they should teach. He went on to lose the gubernatorial election to Republican Glenn Youngkin last month.

The Project 1619 developer referenced McAuliffe’s comments while appearing on NBC. She said that the Democrat’s remarks were “just the fact.”

“This is why we send our children to school and don’t homeschool, because these are the professional educators who have the expertise to teach social studies, to teach history, to teach science, to teach literature,” she said. 

Hannah-Jones went further saying that we should leave these issues to the educators. She said that school is not about confirming our own individual worldview, and that education should teach us to question, how to think…not what to think. 

In the 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones wrote that America was founded on racism. She said that when the first slave ships arrived from Africa, it should be considered America’s true founding. 

The Project has been accused of both inaccuracy and fabrication. There have been several state governments that have banned teaching the material in public schools. This comes in the midst of further restrictions on the teaching of critical race theory. This alleges that racial minorities are oppressed and that white people are the oppressors. 

Hannah-Jones indicated that efforts to prohibit her work in classrooms are an example of attempts to stifle free speech. She is very concerned that her work for The New York Times is now banned by name in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. And she reported that there are similar efforts to ban her work in Tennessee, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. 

Hannah-Jones said that when schools ban books or ideas, that is not a free and tolerant society. She warned that America was veering toward authoritarianism. 

The Project 1619 developer challenged people who believe in free speech and our children being intellectually challenged to get organized and to speak up. And she said that the country was going into a dark age of repression and suppression of the truth. And then she lumped banning her view of history into taking away things like voting rights, women’s reproductive rights, and rights for LGBTO people. She said we were going to have to decide what kind of country we want to live in.

What Hannah-Jones did not reference were the inaccuracies and fabrications that have been spotlighted in her account of history. That is what has caused parents to rise up and question what is being taught to their children.