1619: the College Edition

Transforming profound historical narratives into powerful educational content.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa.

Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: it is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning 1619 Project issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance.

The essays in The 1619 Project show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.

Howard University and Spotify have launched a student-led project inspired by The 1619 Project. The collaboration aims to deepen historical understanding and highlight the impact of slavery. The initiative also includes scholarships and resources for HBCU students to explore audio storytelling.

The course that Nikole Hannah-Jones teaches at Howard University is titled after her award-winning book, The 1619 Project. Students who took the course and studied the material wrote essays that were then were developed into the student-led podcast.

Nikole Hannah-Jones and the journalism students who launched “1619: The College Edition” podcast. Photo: Latrel Caton
Nikole Hannah-Jones and the journalism students who launched “1619: The College Edition” podcast. Photo: Latrel Caton

“1619: The College Edition” unpacks the flair of fashion to the beautiful spectrum of melanin, and even the critical and urgent discussions about the safety of Black queer lives. It’s a mix of history, culture, and contemporary issues, all seen through the eyes of HBCU students.

The series allowed the students to apply their own unique lens to what they learned from studying the 1619 Project and make surprising, compelling and critical connections to the ways that slavery still impacts their lives and ours.

The podcast’s first episode, “Principles of Drip,” produced by Zoe Cummings, discusses how the Black fashion trends of today originated in African culture. The episode tackles how those traditions, and Jim Crow’s strict dress code laws during the Reconstruction Era, sport strong ties to Black culture’s affinity for fashion today.

“Color Theory,” produced by Madison Belo, discusses colorism and its history as a divisive agent of white supremacy. Using both personal narratives and historical perspectives, students examine the impacts of colorism on the lives of Black Americans who still believe “light is right.”

“Queer Seminar,” produced by Trinity Webster-Bass, is a combination of two essays: one based on discrimination against queer individuals and how it dates back to slavery; and the other on the origins of ballroom culture.

Listen to 1619: The College Edition at podnews.net/podcast/ikdlt. The paperback edition of The 1619 Project will be released on June 6, 2024.


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