Culture Wars: The 1619 Project Controversies

In August 2019, The New York Times published an extraordinary collection of essays, poems, stories and photos entitled “The 1619 Project.” The Project proposes a “new origin story” for the United States, beginning in 1619 with the arrival in Virginia of the first ship carrying slaves rather than in 1776 with the beginning of the American Revolution. The Project argues that the history we have accepted and taught marginalizes the centrality of White supremacy and systemic racism, not only to slavery but also to the Revolution itself, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow eras, and to who we are today as a people.

In collaboration with the Pulitzer Foundation, the Times has subsequently supported the development of curricular materials for schools based on The1619 Project and has brought together teachers in many states to teach them.

This course will take an in-depth look at the Project’s arguments as well as discuss the controversies that its publication spawned among American historians, politicians, political commentators, and journalists. We will also consider important questions about what is history and who decides what history is taught in our schools. We will look at examples of the Project’s curriculum and will consider how American history textbooks may have fostered White supremacist views. Finally, we will examine the controversy around providing reparations to the descendants of slaves.


Group Leader: PAUL KELLEHER
Venue: online
Meets on: Thursdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 4/6/2023
Sessions: 4
Class Size: 25
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 1 hour
Group Leader Biography:

Paul Kelleher grew up and attended public schools in Worcester, MA. He received B.A. and master’s degrees from Harvard and a doctorate from Teacher’s College-Columbia. In a 35-year career in public education, Paul served as a teacher, middle and high school principal, and Superintendent for Schools in New York and Connecticut. Upon retiring as a superintendent, Paul served for 10 years as the Norine R. Murchison Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Education at Trinity University in San Antonio. Paul is now Professor Emeritus and devotes himself to leadership development through coaching in local public schools. Paul has written about this work in books and articles on educational leadership.