Mary Grabar, Resident Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), has had enough with Nikole Hannah-Jones’s, the architect of The 1619 Project, prevarications. In “Not Convinced The 1619 Project Lies About History? Look At This Professor’s Forced Confession” for the September 8th issue of The Federalist, Dr. Grabar targets in particular what Hannah-Jones says about African history.
Hannah-Jones is a polemical journalist, not by most standards a scholar. She specializes in distorting issues of slavery and race. “[S]he might be excused for not knowing about the African role in the slave trade, the ubiquitous nature of slavery throughout history (in which no ethnic groups, races, or faiths are exempt), and the fact that many free black people also owned slaves, Grabar observes. “But Hannah-Jones,” a person of partial-African ancestry, “does not accept correction; she attacks every critic as a racist or race traitor.”
Grabar discusses Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” a work of non-fiction, published posthumously in 2018. Hurston’s book relied on interviews she conducted with Cudjo Lewis, one of the last survivors of the Atlantic slave trade. According to Hurston’s account taken from Lewis’s testimony, female warriors from Dahomey— the subject of a highly romanticized film this year by the director Gina Prince-Bythewood— raided Lewis’s village. They slaughtered and enslaved the inhabitants. “As Hurston recorded, Cudjo Lewis’s account tells of seeing the severed and rotting heads of family members and being ‘yoked by forked sticks and tied in a chain’ with other villagers on a three-day march to the stockades at Abomey. He was then incarcerated in the barracoons at Ouidah,” a port city in what is now the Republic of Benin.
Hannah-Jones has a companion book The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, marketed to adolescents. “They will be told,” Grabar notes, “that people in Africa were ‘kidnapped’ exclusively by ‘white people,’ who ‘traded another’s child / another’s momma and daddy’ whom they viewed as ‘not human’ and to be ‘bought and sold … alongside horses and chairs.’” Reducing the operation of the Atlantic slave trade in this way, she surmises, is what Hannah-Jones had in mind all along. The net result: It “encourages racial bitterness.”
“With Hannah-Jones revealing herself to be a liar over and over,” says Grabar, “there should be no more doubts about the need to take the 1619 Project propaganda out of our schools.”