Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he disagrees with The New York Times that the year 1619 was one of the most important points in U.S. history, The Courier-Journalreports.
The New York Times’s “1619 Project” was started in 2019 and aims to reframe U.S. history around the arrival of the first slave ship and put the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans at the “center of our national narrative.”
The first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia in August 1619.
More recently, McConnell led more than three dozen Senate Republicans in calling for the Education Department to nix a proposed plan to offer grants to schools that include the project in their curriculum, arguing the project has been criticized by historians and puts “ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy.”
“Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project’s many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that preserving slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution,” a letter sent to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona last week said.
McConnell reportedly spoke on the project Monday.
“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 at an appearance at the University of Louisville, according to The Courier-Journal.
“There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notions The New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years,” he reportedly said.
McConnell noted that “we all are” concerned about racial discrimination, and it’s something the country has been working more than 200 years to get past.
“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.”
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