Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t think the year that the first enslaved Africans were brought to the U.S. was important.
Black Americans, some the descendants of enslaved Black people brought here by white Europeans, are the backbone of this country and the foundation of all of what the U.S. has accomplished thus far as a nation. But, to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the date in which the first enslaved Blacks were brought to the States isn’t an important one.
“I think this is about American history and the most important dates in American history. And my view — and I think most Americans think — dates like 1776, the Declaration of Independence; 1787, the Constitution; 1861-1865, the Civil War, are sort of the basic tenets of American history,” McConnell said during an appearance at the University of Louisville. And what group of Americans are you referring to that wouldn’t consider the date significant, McConnell?
The first enslaved Africans were brought to the Virginia colony, where our history books state was the beginning of American slavery. McConnell has been against the teachings of The 1619 Project for some time now. During his comments, he went on to say that The New York Times has it wrong about the year 1619 deserving to be highlighted in American history.
“There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notion that The New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years.”
“I think that issue that we all are concerned about — racial discrimination — it was our original sin. We’ve been working for 200-and-some-odd years to get past it,” he continued. “We’re still working on it, and I just simply don’t think that’s part of the core underpinning of what American civic education ought to be about.”
The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative by The New York Times 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 [the United States’] national narrative.” Black American journalist Nikole Hannah Jones created the project, and it now offers a curriculum for schools. The 1619 Project was named after the year when the first enslaved Black people came to Virginia. It’s currently being taught in several high schools and colleges across the country – more than 3,500 classrooms.