NEPC Review: Capitalism in the 1619 Project (The Heritage Foundation, January 2021)
The 1619 Project of the New York Times re-examines United States history with the experiences of Black Americans at the center. The 1619 Project has elicited a significant backlash, culminating recently in the efforts of multiple state legislatures to ban the use of its curricular materials. Consistent with those efforts, this Heritage Foundation report seeks to disqualify the 1619 Project curricular materials as insufficiently celebratory of American capitalism. The report asserts that the 1619 Project overstates slavery’s importance to U.S. economic history. However, the report is less concerned with potential students’ content knowledge about slavery than with their receptivity to the libertarian policy preferences of the Heritage Foundation. Disconnected from the current scholarly literature on both American slavery and history pedagogy, the report commits the exact sin with which it besmirches the 1619 Project: substituting ideology and political motives for an accurate engagement with the past.