I’ve found the information that has been provided by the New York Times in the 1619 Project to be of great use over the past half year. It explaining the effects of slavery in America. And not just up to 1865, but variations that exist to this day, such as the roots of tipping. Check out these audio clips.
I should not have been, but I was nevertheless surprised that so many people were unaware of the year’s significance. Maybe it’s because I grew up reading ads in Ebony and Jet magazines for Before the Mayflower by the late Lerone Bennett. The book came out in the early 1960s, but I didn’t read it until about a decade later. It’s been updated a number of times until 2007.
Before the Mayflower is a great introduction to African American History. But since a lot of people are unfamiliar with it, The 1619 Project became necessary. There is some controversy surrounding the Times series, naturally. On one side is The Battle between 1619 and 1776: The New York Times versus the History Community. On the other, Who’s afraid of the 1619 Project?
I’m not going to get into the debate, except to point out the obvious. Issues of race and slavery and history are… complicated…
For example, “Juan Garrido became the first documented black person to arrive in what would become the U.S. when he accompanied Juan Ponce de León in search of the Fountain of Youth in 1513, and they ended up in present-day Florida, around St. Augustine…
“In 1565… the Spanish brought enslaved Africans to present-day St. Augustine, Fla., the first European settlement in what’s now the continental U.S. In 1526, a Spanish expedition to present-day South Carolina was thwarted when the enslaved Africans aboard resisted.” Still, 1619 was a turning point, if not a beginning.
Here’s A Poem Commemorating The 1619 anniversary: An African Renamed. It’s by Brenda Cave-James, who I have met. We both have Binghamton roots. The poem was inspired by Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.
This could be useful: The Names of 1.8 Million Emancipated Slaves Are Now Searchable in the World’s Largest Genealogical Database, Helping African Americans Find Lost Ancestors. Most of the files are just before or after the Civil War.