By Frederick H. Lowe
Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who has introduced legislation to defund “1619 Project Curriculum” which re-examines the nation’s legacy of slavery, argues slavery was necessary to build the Union. The proposed legislation is called the “Saving American History Act of 2020.”
The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 23.
“As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the Union was built, but the Union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put the slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” Cotton told Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sunday, the day before U.S. Representative John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon, began lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Cotton verbally attacked the 1619 Project published by The New York Times. The project reported that the nation’s birth year was 1619 when the first African slaves arrived on these shores, not 1776, which we have been told is the nation’s official birthdate. The 1619 Project was timed to coincide with the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in the Virginia colony.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the 1619 Project, said the American revolution was a reaction to the British Abolition movement which abolished slavery in 1833. Colonists declared their independence from Britain because they wanted to protect slavery so it could continue, the 1619 Project reported.
The 1619 Project has been criticized by some well-known, conservative historians for being inaccurate and racially divisive, but school districts in Chicago, Newark, New Jersey, Buffalo, New York, and Washington, D.C. have announced they will incorporate the 1619 Project-related curriculum into school programs.
If Cotton’s “Saving American History Act of 2020” passes both Houses of Congress and is signed into law by whoever is sitting in the Oval Office, it would change everything. The legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project to students in K-12th grade.
Senator Tom Cotton
The 1619 Project curriculum includes essays, poems, photographs, and short fiction by a variety of contributors.
“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principle of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” Cotton said.
But 60 percent of teachers polled in a 2017 survey said they believed textbook coverage of slavery was inadequate. I graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, Washington, and one of the teachers told the class, ‘slavery was good’ and ‘slaves were treated well.’
If Cotton’s bill passes, It could have wide implications concerning what is taught and not taught in school.
I am reading “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and Rise of White Supremacy” about how white supremacists overthrew the Democratically elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898 because Black men were exercising their right to vote in very large numbers.
Elaine, Arkansas 1919
This certainly wasn’t taught in school, nor was the 1919 mass lynching of 237 blacks in Elaine, Arkansas. All of the victims were sharecroppers who wanted to form a union for better wages.