Upset by response to 1619 project

To the editor:

I was appalled and disappointed at my ignorance of Black History as taught in the Iowa school system. I have learned so much since the George Floyd murder and the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers want Iowa students to remain in the dark.

In honor of black history month, Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill mandating the Trump commission’s 1776 program be taught in Iowa schools not the 1619 project. The Trump commission’s 45-page doctrine labeled the “1776 Report” came out on Jan. 18, 2021 – on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The 1776 commission does not include input from academic historians, it was written by a close Trump ally along with high-profile conservative activists and pundits, as well as several of Trump’s Cabinet officials as ex-officio members. Some say the 1776 project glorifies a more white and patriarchal view of American history and downplays the ugly legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black people, Native Americans, women and others present during the nation’s founding.

The 1619 project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for the introductory essay to the 1619 Project. The award cited her “sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the groundbreaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting a public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution. Nikole Hannah-Jones claimed that her infamous 1619 Project is not actually a work of history, but an addition to the history we learn. Hannah-Jones is from Waterloo and writes about how the history of American slavery affected her life in Waterloo.

There are approximately 4,500 school districts across the U.S. that are incorporating the “1619 Project” in their history curriculums using a “1619 Project” curriculum that the Pulitzer Center posted to the internet.

State Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Orange City, is the sponsor of House File 222 which seeks to ban the use of the 1619 Project by any school district or state university. The bill would restrict the curriculum budgets of school districts and Board of Regents universities – Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa – for each day the 1619 Project was taught. It is currently assigned to committee.

After taking office, President Joe Biden revoked the 1776 report. Iowa Republicans control the state which controls school curriculums, so if you disagree with this decision, the revocation won’t help. State Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, is against banning the 1619 Project. He’s been trying to gather signatures on Twitter for a petition. #Stopthebanof1619. Also, this is why voting in all elections is so important, it gives voice to your beliefs.

Cindy Wagner



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