More Republican Anti-1619 Project Bill
President Joe Biden dissolved the 1776 commission on his first day in office, and Republican state officials have taken matters into their own hands.
Last week I wrote about a Mississippi state senator that introduced a bill called — Saving American History in Mississippi Schools Act. The bill was introduced in order to withhold state funds from any school that teaches the Pulitzer Prize winning 1619 Project. I pointed out, in 2019, Mississippi’s public school system was ranked 4th worst in the nation by Insider magazine. I concluded, under those circumstances defunding schools over the 1619 Project was irresponsible.
Recently, the USA Today reported Republican Lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, and South Dakota introduced similar bills that would cut funding to K-12 and colleges that provide lessons from the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project was a collection of essays published by the New York Times Magazine in 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Africans arriving in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The Pulitzer Prize Center, in partnership with the 1619 Project, created lesson plans and over 4,000 schools across the country are using the lessons. However, the 1619 Project promoted two controversial ideas that critics believe do not belong in schools.
1). The arrival of enslaved Africans in 1619 marked the founding date of America and not 1776.
2). The colonist declared independence from Britain in order to protect the institution of slavery.
The editor of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hanna-Jones, defended these claims by stating, “The fight here is about who gets to control the national narrative, and therefore, the nation’s shared memory of itself, one group has monopolized this for too long in order to create this myth of exceptionalism.”
Now, the South Dakota bill was withdrawn and the Arkansas bill was rejected. But I anticipate more Republican state legislators to introduce similar bills in their respective states soon, because, as Hanna-Jones stated, the fight is over who controls the narrative.
The 1619 Project wasn’t written simply to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Africans arriving at Jamestown it was written to denounce the concept of American exceptionalism. Therefore, proponents of American exceptionalism are retaliating under the guise of “patriotic education”. Former President Trump put together the 1776 commission to establish “patriotic education” but President Joe Biden dissolved the 1776 commission on his first day in office, and Republican state officials have taken matters into their own hands.
Even before these anti-1619 Project bills were introduced, Mississippi Governor, Tate Reeves, proposed spending $3 million on a Patriotic Education Fund that would allow schools to apply for money to provide teaching that “educates the next generation in the incredible accomplishments of the American way.” Reeves also stated, “Across the country, young children have suffered from indoctrination in far-left socialist teaching that emphasize America’s shortcomings over the exceptional achievements of this country”. South Dakota’s Governor, Kristi Noem, proposed spending $900,000 for curriculum that teaches students “why the U.S. is the most special nation in the history of the world.”
If this model is duplicated, red states might be in the business of giving money to schools that adopt “patriotic education” while seeking to defund schools that teach the 1619 Project.
I doubt any of this would come to fruition. But if it does, it would be a victory for a cause unworthy of celebration.