On Monday, May 4, Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist working as a domestic correspondent for the New York Times, received the Pulitzer Prize for her lead essay, “The Idea of America,” in a special ninety-plus page Sunday issue of The New York Times Magazine. In The 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones and her fellow contributors to this well-funded Project had as their goal nothing less than a transformational rewrite of American history, using as a starting point the first arrival of Africans in colonial Virginia in 1619. In reading Hannah-Jones’ essay, Mary Grabar, Resident Fellow, of The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), heard a ring of familiarity in its method and argument. The Pulitzer Committee, she suggests, might well have presented the award posthumously to Howard Zinn.
Although the Project has come under withering criticism from a diverse group of historians, spanning the political spectrum, including some of the most decorated scholars in the profession such as Gordon Wood, Sean Wilentz, and Allen Guelzo, the Project, instead of withering, appears to be gaining steam, fueled by the resources of a wide variety of left-of-center non-profits. Indeed, the Pulitzer Center (a different entity from the Pulitzer Prizes), an organization supposedly devoted to making visible “underreported global issues” through “a unique program of education and public outreach” claims to have already insinuated educational materials based on the Project into thousands of schools across America.
Dr. Grabar’s essay points out numerous similarities between Hannah-Jones’ essay and Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Like Zinn, Hannah-Jones proved studious in failing to cite sources for their wildly tendentious and demonstrably false arguments.
Mary Grabar earned her PhD from the University of Georgia and taught college English for 20 years. She is the author of the book Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America (August, 2019).