Nikole Hannah-Jones talks to PBS Newshour about her exciting project with The New York Times Magazine. The 1619 Project is a landmark issue of the magazine entirely devoted to commemorating the anniversary of American slavery, and reframing the nation’s past—and present—through the lens of this incredible injustice.
How did slavery shape the American economy, influence infrastructure, and make the U.S, an international power? The effects of slavery— not only on the African-American population, but on the entire nation— are not hidden in the past, explains Nikole Hannah-Jones, but remain very much in the present. In her PBS Newshour interview, she explains how seemingly unrelated modern phenomena, from capitalism to universal healthcare to sugar consumption, are indeed related back to slavery.
“We are the country where, if you are coming from a place where you are not free, you can come to our shores and you can get freedom…We are the constant reminder, really, of the lie at our origins; that while Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence, his enslaved brother-in-law was there to serve him and make sure that he's comfortable,” Hannah-Jones says. It’s this tension, between the story we tell ourselves, and the truth of our origins, that is at the heart of the project.
You can listen to the full interview here.
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