Senator McConnell and his republican colleagues will stop at no attempt to whitewash history or better yet, keep history whitewashed. As an educator who has taught at the K-12 level and now as a diversity & inclusion trainer of educators in public, private, and charter schools, I have seen first-hand how the history and social studies curriculum leaves out the real contributions of nonwhite people but especially black people. Our students are not taught about Africa before slavery so they believe that being slaves as opposed to being enslaved is their natural way of being. We’re taught that black people came here as slaves, Lincoln freed them, Rosa Parks got tired and sat down, then Dr. King had a dream, and then Obama became the first black president. That’s all. No conversations about heroes of the many wars fought in America. No conversations about black inventors or hidden figures like the late Katherine Johnson at NASA. The list is endless.
Furthermore, The letter Senator McConnell and his colleagues wrote stated that “it is now time to ‘strengthen the teaching of civics and American history in our schools.’” Why now? We have not fully taught civics in our schools since the days of President George W. Bush and his education secretary Bill Bennett. It is our lack of civic education that led to the ignorance former President Trump and republicans used to create the “Big Lie” surrounding the election. It was our ignorance about civics, which led people to believe in lies about voting that led to the January 6th insurrection. They benefitted from history not being taught. They benefitted from schools in districts like Texas saying slaves were “migrant workers.” Through financial sponsorship from the Koch Brothers and so many more, conservatives have been working to rewrite history for years. The 1619 Project is about correcting the record.
So much has been stated about America being founded in 1776 but what if we looked at America starting in 1619? What new stories would have to be told? What records would have to be corrected? When it comes to history, few people can actually look at it objectively. Rather than try to be objective, we just need to tell the truth. We need to show the full picture to understand how, even if you agree with Senator Tim Scott that America is not a racist country, you will not be able to deny that it was founded on racism in every nook and cranny of this country and it still persists today. Systemic racism is here and the 1619 project helps illuminate American history not by teaching division but by teaching truth.