This week, Legal Insurrection reported the Biden administration has prioritized grant applications that include components of critical race theory. The proposed priority would include “projects that incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning.” This would move CRT grant applications to the front of the line.

If approved, the federal proposal would prioritize grant applications that utilize programs like the 1619 Project, which is attached to critical race theory.

The 1619 Project is an initiative by The New York Times Magazine that was conceived by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Though the 1619 Project is plagued with inaccurate information, Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for her work on the initiative.

The Times plans on this being an “ongoing initiative” that “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” The 1619 Project also has a curriculum available through the Pulitzer Center.

One example of the inaccuracies in the 1619 Project is the claim that 1619 was when the original slaves came to the colonies. Many disagree, and a nonprofit with a similar name—Project 1619 in Fort Monroe, Virginia—has gone on record disagreeing with The Times‘ piece, saying the “original slaves” of 1619 were actually indentured servants.

Calvin Pearson is a historian and the founder of Project 1619. When Texas Scorecard reached out to Pearson for a comment, he passionately replied: 

“Much has been written about ‘The 1619 Project.’ … It has been critically acclaimed and critically criticized. The NYT has omitted [the fact] that this story was produced by their journalists who are not historians, although they did a limited and courtesy consultation with some historians. A project of this magnitude should have been written with more input of scholars instead of using opinions written by journalists. … It appears that this project was preconceived and predetermined to present ill-conceived racial ideology.”

Pearson, who has been working on his project since 1994, also stated:

“We cannot discredit the progress of Blacks in America for the past 400 years. From the belly of slave ships, we rose as a people to having Barack Obama as president. As W. E. B. Du Bois wrote, ‘Ideological claims do not replace rigorous historical analysis.’ The staff at [The New York Times] wanted to reframe the teaching and understanding of the history of the United States. What they accomplished was to proliferate a racial narrative of division.”

Notable historians have also spoken out about the 1619 Project and its view of history. Gordon Wood, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of history at Brown University, stated in an interview, “I was surprised, as many other people were, by the scope of this thing, especially since it’s going to become the basis for high school education and has the authority of The New York Times behind it, and yet it is so wrong in so many ways.” 

Dr. Wood was so moved that he crafted a letter to the editor, which was signed by other historians who took issue with the project. In the letter, he states:

“I have spent my career studying the American Revolution and cannot accept the view that ‘one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.’”

Should the government approve the proposal by the Department of Education, any school that would want to apply for one of these grants would have to utilize the 1619 Project or a similar program.

Fort Worth citizen Chris Putnam has been working to draw attention to the increased use of CRT in schools. Putnam said, “What’s going on in our public schools across the state with the implementation of the 1619 Project and critical race theory into curriculums is the single biggest threat to Texas turning blue.”

He added, “We simply can’t afford to educate another generation of angry, entitled, little socialists and social justice warriors. These tactics by the left … promoted by the big, liberal Austin public ed lobbies are deliberately designed to divide us as citizens by building ‘coalitions of hate’ for no other reason than political expediency and to win elections.”

Concerned citizens may comment on the federal proposal by the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail. The directions to submit a comment can be found here.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.