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Civil Rights Veteran Condemns Roosevelt Institute for Celebrating Nikole Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project

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Civil rights veteran Bob Woodson has condemned the Roosevelt Institute’s decision to grant Nikole Hannah-Jones freedom of speech, stressing that her “offensive” work humiliates black people and goes against American values.

Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer for her controversial work for The New York Times, the 1619 Project – the date the first black slaves landed in the United States.

The 1619 project was launched in 2019 by the New York Times to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in what later became the US. The venture explores how slavery has shaped and continues to permeate all aspects of American society by expanding on early stories largely omitted from the historical narrative taught in most schools.

She argues that insufficient attention is paid to how America was built in part from slave labor, and how the story of America’s founding has been cleaned up and distorted, instead celebrating 1776 and wiping out the past. Critics say she labels the United States as a racist country and tries to make people hate their homeland.

Woodson has been a staunch critic of the 1619 project since its inception, arguing that it offends black Americans by suggesting they are not in control of their own destiny.

He founded a counterpart to the 1619 project in February 2020, called 1776 Unites, which aims to “promote current and historical examples of prosperous black communities as a powerful refutation of the claim that the fate of black Americans is determined by what white people do, or what they’ve done in the past.’

Woodson criticized the Roosevelt Institution’s decision on Thursday, accusing Hannah-Jones of “fueling anti-American sentiment.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of the 1619 Project, is seen Wednesday evening receiving her award for advancing free speech from the Roosevelt Institute.  The decision was condemned by civil rights veteran Bob Woodson

Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of the 1619 Project, is seen Wednesday evening receiving her award for advancing free speech from the Roosevelt Institute. The decision was condemned by civil rights veteran Bob Woodson

Woodson, pictured with Donald Trump and Mike Pence at Bedminster Golf Club in November 2016, has long been a critic of Hannah-Jones's work

Woodson, pictured with Donald Trump and Mike Pence at Bedminster Golf Club in November 2016, has long been a critic of Hannah-Jones’s work

Bob Woodson, far left, and Bayard Rustin, left, with two other civil rights activists in the 1960s.  In recent years, Woodson has been committed to the Woodson Center and has promoted community-based solutions to help low-income neighborhoods

Bob Woodson, far left, and Bayard Rustin, left, with two other civil rights activists in the 1960s. In recent years, Woodson has been committed to the Woodson Center and has promoted community-based solutions to help low-income neighborhoods

He told Fox news that “she has given aid and comfort to those who speak against the founding principles of the country.”

New York Times’ 1619 Project

In August 2019, the New York Times Magazine published Project 1619, a collection of essays, photo essays, short fiction pieces, and poems that aimed to “reframe” American history based on the impact of slaves being brought to the US.

It was published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies.

It argues that the nation’s birth was not in 1776 with independence from the British Crown, but in August 1619 with the arrival of a freighter of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans at Point Comfort in the Colony of Virginia, establishing the system of slavery was initiated.

The project states that slavery was the origin of the country and that “almost everything that has made America truly exceptional has grown from it.”

That includes economic power, industry, the electoral system, music, health and education inequalities, violence, income inequality, slang and racial hatred.

However, the project is debated among historians for its factual accuracy.

In March 2020, historian Leslie M. Harris, who served as a fact-checker for the project, said authors ignored her corrections but believed the project was necessary to correct prevailing historical narratives.

One aspect that is up for debate is the timeline.

Time magazine said the first slaves arrived in a Spanish colony in what is now South Carolina in 1526, 93 years before landing at Jamestown.

Some experts say slaves first arrived at present-day Fort Monroe in Hampton, rather than Jamestown.

Others argue that the first Africans in Virginia were indentured servants, as lifetime slavery laws did not appear until the 17th and early 18th centuries, but essentially worked as slaves.

“It’s kind of like an arsonist being honored at a firefighter’s convention,” Woodson said.

He noted that when Claremont McKenna College professor Charles Kesler said the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020 should be called “the riots of 1619,” Hannah-Jones responded with a tweet saying she would be “honored.” . She later deleted the tweet.

“That seems odd for someone honored for free speech for allowing this to happen,” Woodson said.

‘People who advocate the critical race theory and 1619 are at the forefront of the cancellation culture.

“It’s ironic that Nikole Hannah-Jones would be honored for free speech.”

The Roosevelt Institute – founded in 1972 “to continue the legacy and values ​​of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing forward-thinking ideas and courageous leadership in the service of restoring America’s promise of opportunity for all” – said Hannah-Jones was a worthy winner.

They praised her “visionary work that has exposed the systemic and institutionalized racism embedded in our country’s laws and policies,” and her “dedication to mentoring and educating investigative journalists of color of color.”

But Woodson, 84, whose own foundation, the Woodson Center, supports community initiatives to help low-income areas, said he was stunned by the decision.

“As a veteran of the civil rights movement, what I find most discouraging is their support for watering down standards,” he said, accusing Hannah-Jones of “ignoring that history of excellence and achievement against all odds and demanding instead that the standards are lowered because blacks cannot compete.’

He said he rejected Hannah-Jones’ theory of systemic racism and said it reduced black Americans to victims.

“It’s very, very offensive to black America,” Woodson said.

He said he preferred “the old-fashioned bigotry” of outspoken racism to the “new progressive bigotry.”

“The new progressive bigotry masquerades as fighting for social justice for blacks,” he told Fox.

“It masquerades as something that promotes the interests of blacks and denigrates them at the same time.”

Roosevelt Institute defended the award.

Ariela Weinberger, a spokesperson for the think tank, said, “Our decision to honor Ms. Hannah-Jones speaks for itself.”

Hannah-Jones has not responded to Woodson’s criticism.

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