Trump threatens to investigate and pull federal funding from schools that teach NYT's 1619 project on the consequences of slavery

Trump threatens to investigate and pull federal funding from schools that teach NYT's 1619 project on the consequences of slavery
A copy of The New York Times Magazine's The 1619 Project is photographed on August 19, 2019, in Chicago.Raquel Zaldivar/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday said he would call on the Department of Education to investigate whether schools were teaching The New York Times' 1619 Project.
  • The project, launched by The New York Times Magazine last year, centers on American history told through the lens of Black Americans beginning when slaves were brought to the Virginia colony in the year 1619.
  • Trump threatened to strip federal funding from schools that used the Pulitzer Prize-winning work.
  • The move comes two days after the president announced the federal government would ban anti-racism training that used critical race theory.

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he would implore the Department of Education to investigate schools using The New York Times' 1619 project, which teaches American history beginning with the arrival of slaves to Virginia in the year 1619 and focuses on the contributions of Black Americans.

"california has implemented the 1619 project into the public schools. soon you wont recognize america," a Twitter user claimed in a tweet on September 1. Five days later, on Sunday, the president tweeted the message, writing "Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!"

The White House on Sunday did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for further comment.

"The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery," according to The New York Times. "It 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."

In May, New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her work on the 1619 Project. The project has drawn backlash from conservatives, who have "accused the writers of stoking racial division, pushing their leftist ideologies, and rewriting history through 'a racial lens' — meaning through the point of view of Black Americans," as Vox's J. Brian Charles wrote last year.


Some historians have also expressed concerns over their belief that there are factual inaccuracies within the project, as The Atlantic reported, also in 2019.

"But the debates playing out now on social media and in op-eds between supporters and detractors of the 1619 Project misrepresent both the historical record and the historical profession," Leslie M. Jones, a Northwestern University historian, wrote for Politico in March. "The United States was not, in fact, founded to protect slavery—but the Times is right that slavery was central to its story. And the argument among historians, while real, is hardly black and white."

Trump's tweet comes exactly one week after an editorial in The Wall Street Journal titled "California's Radical Indoctrination," published August 30, targeting California state legislation AB 331, which would require all school districts in the state to offer a semester-long ethnic studies course beginning in 2025.

"The largest state in the union is poised to become one of the first to mandate ethnic studies for all high-school students, and the model curriculum makes the radical '1619 project' look moderate and balanced," The Wall Street Journal editorial board said.

The president's Sunday announcement also comes two days after a Friday announcement that he directed federal agencies to cease anti-racism training that involved critical race theory. The theory, according to Britannica, centers around the idea that race is a social construct "used by white people to further their economic and political interests" at the expense of minority groups.


"The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the federal government," said Russell Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a Friday memo announcing. the prohibition.

As Business Insider previously reported, it's unclear whether these trainings exist within the federal government and to what extent. Likewise, it's not clear whether any school districts in California or otherwise have incorporated elements of the 1619 project, as CNN reported.

Following the publication of the project, The New York Times partnered with the Pulitzer Center to develop free-to-download educational resources for teachers based on the project, according to the report. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton in July introduced legislation to prevent schools from teaching the curriculum, CNN noted.