The 1619 project: its attempt to expose systemic oppression and Trump’s attempt to bury it

Recently, President Trump condemned the proposals for a new history curriculum, specifically the 1619 project. The president argues that he wants to keep America’s patriot reputation intact, so anything that would expose our dark past being presented in schools is off limits. To put things into perspective, however, let’s review where our current education stands.


There’s currently two classes at Milton that focus solely on America’s history which are American Government and Politics and U.S. History. Both feature a wide range of topics on our governmental systems, political parties and origins of our laws. U.S. history, however, has the most in-depth lessons about the timeline from our country’s founding to present day available at Milton. While the course does provide an adequate understanding of how America has grown to where it is today, many people nationwide have complained it’s missing key parts about our minority history, which has manifested itself into the 1619 project.


The project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, aims to reframe our understanding of history around the year of 1619 when the first slave ships arrived in America. The change in timeline allows for a new perspective on slavery and general non-white American oppression as well as focuses on the contributions of Black Americans. 


AP U.S. History teachers at Milton have recently picked up turning to the project for resources and lesson materials, but they only started last year. It’s taken us to 2020 to realize the basis of our history curriculum is relatively inaccurate given the amount of detail it excludes.


For example, without the help of the 1619 project, Milton and other high schools not on the new curriculum teach students that slavery happened and is bad, but it was more or less solved after the Emancipation Proclamation. And then, segregation and Jim Crowe laws were the focus for a while but were ended by the Civil Rights act of 1964. The rest of the year focused on world wars and political schemes that didn’t acknowledge much of the intense oppression Black Americans still struggled with as history went on. In fact, many phenomenons went unexplained in terms of minority dynamics in this country.


For example, why is Milton, a high school in a predominantly wealthy area, less diverse than Roswell, a high school in a lower income area? Is it just coincidence? Or, why are the rates for crime, poverty, drop-out, decreased lifespan, etc. so much higher for minorities than they are for white people? It’s almost as if America has been built on this systemic racism that was largely ignored in schools, forcing people to educate themselves on something so intertwined in our history separately.


These issues that we see now or continuously are coming to light aren’t random and have hundreds of years of evidence. If we were to be taught thoroughly on the events that have led to systemic oppression instead of what machinery was used in WWII, we wouldn’t be facing the current racial tension that has ended in the deaths of hundreds of minorities.


In fact, the president said it himself. “I want everybody to know everything they can about our history. I am not a believer in cancel culture, the good or the bad, if you don’t study the bad it could happen again. So I do want that subject studied very carefully and accurately,” Trump explained at a press conference. 


However, for our president and his administration to threaten withholding funding from schools who adopt the 1619 project’s curriculum, it shows just how much our current education caters to white people. Trump and his supporters have the privilege to disregard certain aspects of history because it doesn’t affect them. Moreover, it benefits them. Not only will learning about the complex history of minorities open discussions to the different treatments they get now, it will also be the best motivator for change as we begin to realize the flaws in our system.


Overall, the 1619 project isn’t meant to tear America apart or make white people feel guilty. Their goal is to educate our future leaders and provide information that can better America as a whole. It’s easy to argue that America is already great or go on about American Exceptionalism, but sometimes, it’s important to step back and wonder if America is really so great for everyone. Until you can prove minorities are receiving the same opportunities, rights and respect that white people experience, you can’t deem the 1619 project as unamerican propaganda.