Wilfred McClay: The 1619 Project Is Historically False And Morally Corrosive

The 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans at Jamestown could have been a great and unifying moment for America. It could have reinforced the assertion of African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois that “before the Pilgrims landed we were here,” meaning that people of African descent have always been a part of American history, and helped all Americans to see that their climb toward equality and dignity is a vital strand of that history. But instead the New York Times’ 1619 Project took its bearings from the opposite view: that there has never been a place for African Americans in that larger American history, because racism was embedded in the American DNA at the beginning. Such a view is both historically false and morally corrosive, as Peter Wood demonstrates in this superb, well-researched, fair-minded, and surprisingly elegant book. Anyone who cares about these matters will need to read it. All Americans ought to.

Wilfred McClay | Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma | On Peter W. Wood, The 1620 Project: A Critical Response To the 1619 Project (New York: Encounter Books, 2020)


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  1. I think the headline may need some punctuation, such as Wilfred McClay on The 1619 Project: “Historically False and Morally Corrosive.” As the headline stands now I got the initial impression that it was McClay whose words were false/corrosive.

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