President Donald Trump on Sunday warned the Department of Education is investigating the use of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” in schools, saying that institutions that use the alternative narrative of U.S. history could lose federal funding.
The “1619 Project,” created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and widely panned by historians and political scientists, attempts to cast the Atlantic slave trade as the dominant factor in the founding of America instead of ideals such as individual liberty and natural rights. Some critics have said that it is an attempt to rewrite U.S. history through a left-wing lens. Some historians have criticized the project over inaccuracies such as the American Revolution having been fought to preserve the institution of slavery rather than for seeking independence from Britain.
“Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!” Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday, responding to a post that said California has “implemented the 1619 project into the public schools,” and that “soon you won’t recognize [A]merica.” California’s Department of Education came up with a draft model last month to include some of the project in history classes.
It echoes the sentiment of a bill that was proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced in July that proposes denying funds to a school that uses the 1619 Project. Schools in places like Washington D.C. and Chicago have modified their curriculum for the project.
Controversy erupted earlier this year when a professor at Northwestern University who helped fact-check the project said that she alerted Hannah-Jones about inaccuracies contained in the project but got no response.
“On August 19 of last year I listened in stunned silence as Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for the New York Times, repeated an idea that I had vigorously argued against,” wrote professor Leslie Harris in Politico. Harris also said she “vigorously disputed” the claim that protecting slavery was a major reason why the American Revolution was fought.
“Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American Colonies. Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation, a British military strategy designed to unsettle the Southern Colonies by inviting enslaved people to flee to British lines, propelled hundreds of enslaved people off plantations and turned some Southerners to the patriot side. It also led most of the 13 Colonies to arm and employ free and enslaved black people, with the promise of freedom to those who served in their armies,” Harris wrote.
Cotton, meanwhile, wrote in July that the project is “racially divisive” and engages in a revisionist rewriting of U.S. history.
“Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” said Cotton.