Review of ‘The 1619 Project’: The Critical History Get the must-see TV adaptation

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ searing essays come to life in this six-part documentary.

In her searing essay The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote that “white Americans yearn to be freed from a past they do not want to remember, while black Americans remain tied to a past they they can. never forget.”

That’s the underlying thesis of Hannah-Jones’ collection of essays, the accompanying New York Times podcast, and the six-part documentary now streaming on Hulu (each named after the year the first enslaved Africans were brought to American soil). The show explores the impact of slavery on modern America up to the present day, alongside the indelible mark of black Americans on art and culture. And while it looks like a historical documentary, make no mistake: this is true crime, and it should pump up viewers just as much.. It is a miscarriage of justice that began centuries ago at the top and cannot be corrected without a mass movement.

“The 1619 Project” is as dense as its source material and the grueling history it seeks to illuminate, but the documentary format feels natural. The weekly episodic releases mean viewers can sit down with anecdotes and lessons, do more research and reading, and really get into the material. All of this makes this series sound like a class, but it is in a very real sense; Hannah-Jones provides an introduction to critical race theory for the uninitiated and clearly outlines the current challenges of sharing ‘1619’ stories. He cites dozens of state attempts to prevent the “1619 Project” and critical race theory from being taught in schools, sanitizing American history because the truth is too horrible, too violent, too unconscionable to explain to a child—yet it’s true. . For those following the race riots in the United States, much of this will come as a relief, but presenting “1619” in a new format will attract a new audience. Given that the threat of silence threatens his teachings so badly, making the series accessible via streaming is another quiet and decisive step in resistance.

A young black boy with an American flag on his back like a cloak;  poster "The 1619 project" on Hulu.

“The 1619 Project”


Hosted by Hannah-Jones and expanding her writing, with new interviews, clips and context on the latest 2022 headlines. Hannah-Jones serves as an executive producer alongside Oprah Winfrey, Roger Ross-Williams, Shoshana Guy, Kathleen Lingo and Caitlin. Rope worker. Directed by Guy, Ross-Williams, Naimah Jabali-Nash, Christine Turner, Kamilah Forbes, Phil Bertelsen and Jonathan Clasberry.

Like the essays, each episode is built around a specific theme: “Democracy” tells the story of voting rights and restrictions, “Race” delves into the arbitrary construction of black and white, and “Music” explores the black artistic footprint in music. “Capitalism” into labor exploitation and unions. “Fear” looks at the state of modern policing, and “Justice” looks ahead, hard and hopeful. The stories in “1619” are as personal as they get; Hannah-Jones interviews experts and academics, but also speaks to black Americans directly affected by each topic, occasionally weaving in her own family history. Each interview is fascinating in its own way, whether it’s a professor clarifying American history or an ordinary American recounting his emotional struggles with bureaucracy.

Because the contributions of black people are so often ignored or outright erased, Hannah-Jones recounts chapters of history that should be common knowledge but should be sanctified (and not taught in schools). Here is an early example of Abraham Lincoln, who was praised for emancipating the slaves, who held a meeting with abolitionists during the Civil War and did his best to encourage them to leave the United States entirely. Despite the atrocities committed against black people, they stood firm because it was their country as much as anyone else’s. “1619” is at its strongest when it dares to engage the viewer in learning on the spot. Unlike historical documentaries, this one is firmly rooted in the present – repeatedly reminding the audience that it’s not as far away as it seems.

And in the end, like the beginning, it all comes back to slavery, a crime so intolerable that even white Americans want to rid themselves of its legacy—but they can’t. That’s why black students can’t always do a project about where their families immigrated from, which is why the Justice Department sued the state of Georgia in 2021 for voter suppression. While many comfortably embrace slavery as part of a bygone past, Hannah-Jones and a growing segment of the population know that it seeped far and wide into the nation’s fabric—a stain that won’t go away without hard work. Fighting unfair wages, health disparities, incarceration, and more is fundamental to complete nation forward. The 1619 Project clearly draws out these threads for the viewer, from highlighting specific legislation (some of which is still in place) to current practices that repackage the ideology and actions of the slave era. It highlights how deeply this country’s history still affects and harms individual people, and dares to fight back.

The first two episodes of “The 1619 Project” are now streaming on Hulu with new episodes weekly.

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