“In August of 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began.” Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has devoted her career to exposing systemic and institutional racism in the United States. Chief among her work is the seminal 1619 Project published in the New York Times Magazine—and now a successful podcast and television series— which holds the year 1619 as an essential touchstone for understanding and interpreting America both historically and in the present.
Why 1619? That was the year when an English ship carrying enslaved Africans and flying the Dutch flag appeared on the horizon of Point Comfort, Virginia. It ushered in the beginning of slavery in what would become the continental U.S., bringing unprecedented anguish and hardship in the generations that followed. The crux of the project? That no aspect of the country has been untouched by the centuries of slavery that ensued. From the contemporary economy to American popular music, 1619 implores us to radically rethink America as we know it. And, though celebrated by many, Hannah-Jones’ work has not been without controversy, sparking both academic debate and extremist backlash. Regardless of the perspective taken, projects like 1619 force reckonings with our shared past: often uncomfortable, but always necessary.
The John Adams Institute is thrilled to invite Nikole Hannah-Jones to discuss the politics of remembering. This event is the launch of a new, multiyear project: Charting History, a collaboration between The John Adams Institute, Are We Europe, Lilith Agency and other partners that re-examines our shared history and heritage. Andrew Makkinga will be moderating the evening and the opening poem is by the Poet Laureate of The Netherlands 2023 Babs Gons.