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Are black Americans the true “founding fathers”?

Four hundred years ago this month the first enslaved Africans arrived in The New World only to be sold to colonists living in what would become the US state of Virginia. To commemorate this pivotal historical event, New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones created “The 1619 Project”.

The cornerstone of the series is an essay by Hannah-Jones re-framing US history and making the assertion that “the year 1619 is as foundational to the American story as 1776 … black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true ‘founding fathers.’”

The New York Times has also teamed up with the Pulitzer Center to encourage teachers to add the project to their curriculums.

While there has been overwhelming support for the series, it has also been subject to criticism. Former history professor and Republican party congressman Newt Gingrich tweeted, “a 1619 history of slavery project is great. Insisting that slavery is THE defining reality of America is simply factually wrong”.

On this episode of The Stream we’ll dive into The 1619 Project and ask our panel would the US even be a democracy if not for the efforts of black Americans.

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