A group of 21 scholars have published a letter on the website of the National Association of Scholars, calling for the Pulitzer Prize Board to strip the New York Times' Nikole Hannah-Jones of her 2020 prize for her article series, the "1619 project."
The series contains writings by journalists and op-ed contributors who retell American history through the lens of slavery.
In particular, it attempts to cast the Atlantic slave trade as the primary factor in the founding of America, which critics have slammed as an attempt to rewrite US history through an inaccurate, left-wing lens which suggests that the American revolution was fought to preserve slavery, rather than seeking to separate from Britain.
"We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in ‘The 1619 Project," writes historian Peter Wood, a signatory to the NAS letter. "That essay was entitled, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.’ But it turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence," he continues.
"The duplicity of attempting to alter the historical record in a manner intended to deceive the public is as serious an infraction against professional ethics as a journalist can commit."
A group of scholars, myself included, are calling on the Pulitzer Board to revoke the prize awarded earlier this year to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her "1619 Project" essay:https://t.co/PHKJx614Q6— Glenn Loury (@GlennLoury) October 6, 2020
According to the letter, the Pulitzer board heaped praise on Hannah-Jones "for ‘a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.'"
"Note well the last five words," the letter continues. "Clearly the award was meant not merely to honor this one isolated essay, but the Project as a whole, with its framing contention that the year 1619, the date when some twenty Africans arrived at Jamestown, ought to be regarded as the nation’s ‘true founding,’ supplanting the long-honored date of July 4, 1776, which marked the emergence of the United States as an independent nation."
"The Pulitzer Prize Board erred in awarding a prize to Hannah-Jones’s profoundly flawed essay, and through it to a Project that, despite its worthy intentions, is disfigured by unfounded conjectures and patently false assertions."
The 1619 project came under fire in September for its historical distortions - to which Hannah-Jones suggested that the project "explicitly denies objectivity," and that "We state in the intro that this was a reframing of history."
Someone who is denying objectivity is someone asking you not to believe her. pic.twitter.com/Ro2ku2Rd4d— B the Dude (@TheDudeAbidesM) October 6, 2020
Last month President Trump warned over the 1619 project's integration into California public schools:
Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded! https://t.co/dHsw6Y6Y3M— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2020
"The Board should acknowledge that its award was an error. It can and should correct that error by withdrawing the prize," concludes the letter.