Martin Luther King Jr. Day speaker discusses the 1619 Project


Joe Forrestdavis

CRC held an event in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day featuring keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones. Hannah-Jones discussed her Pulitzer Prize winning 1619 Project.

Cosumnes River College held an online event on Jan. 26 about the 1619 Project featuring keynote speaker and award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Vice President of Institutional Equity Claire Oliveros was part of the planning committee who hosted the event.
Oliveros said the event was an opportunity to signal the importance, the value and the commitment we have to equity and racial equity for CRC.
“We want students to have access to scholars and journalists like Nikole Hannah-Jones, to learn from her experience in higher education,” Oliveros said.
Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the 1619 Project and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine. She’s made a career as an investigative reporter covering racial inequality and injustice.
“So much of my work has been inspired by this desire to critique our country, to force our country to have an honest reckoning with itself,” Hannah-Jones said. “To say that we could never become a great country until we are honest about that upon which we are built.”
The 1619 Project marks the first arrival of slaves brought over by a ship called the White Lion to the English colony of Virginia.
Hannah-Jones talked about where her inspiration for the 1619 Project originated from.
“My high school offered a one semester black studies course,” Hannah-Jones said. “In that three months that course lasted, I learned more about the history and contributions of black people in America globally than I had learned my entire K-12 education to that point.”
Hannah-Jones said she became really angry as a 16-year-old that the history she was taught in her one semester black studies class wasn’t acknowledged in any years of her education before.
“I realized that there was all of this history that could be learned and people have made the decision not to teach it to us,” she said.
She began to read books recommended by her teacher outside of class and was given “Before the Mayflower” written by Lerone Bennett Jr.
In Benette Jr.’s book is where she stumbled upon the year 1619 and the history behind the sail of the White Lion.
Human Services Professor Brandy Jones-Thomas was a panelist for the event and was pleased with CRC holding an event like this.
“I love to see us doing things that show diversity, it shows equity minded,” Jones-Thomas said. “We can have these conversations in safe ways if we keep making space for future events like this.”