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The 1619 Project, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
About the 1619 Project

The 1619 Project is The New York Times Magazines award-winning reframing of American history that placed slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. The project, which was initially launched in August of 2019, offered a revealing new origin story for the United States, one that helped explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of so much of what makes the country unique. 

For every copy of The 1619 Project or Born on the Water preordered between September 13th and November 16th, Penguin Random House will donate a book, up to 2,500 copies, to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

On Thursday, July 15, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund announced its support for projects totaling $3 million that will help preserve African American landmarks. With $50 million of funding, the Action Fund is the largest preservation effort ever undertaken to support the longevity of African American historic sites. This announcement represents the largest single disbursement in the Action Fund’s four-year history. The Action Fund has grown at a blistering pace since its inception in 2017. In its first three years, it raised nearly $30 million thanks to primary support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation. 

This year, the Action Fund nearly doubled in size due to a significant gift by philanthropists McKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, who announced a $20 million grant to the program. This gift acknowledges the power of preservation as a form of equity and asserts the importance of African American history as a vital force in the American cultural landscape. Scott joins this year’s lead funder The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional gifts from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, President and Mrs. George W. Bush, the Chapman Foundation, and an anonymous donation in memory of Ahmaud Arbery. 

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

The 1619 Project

Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times Magazine

A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.

The 1619 Project speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste that still define so much of American life today. It reveals the hidden truths around our nation’s founding and construction—and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.

U.K., Australia, South Africa, and India

<p><span data-weight="700" class="font-weight font-weight-700">Born on the Water</span></p> by <p><span data-hex="#2a3344" style="color:#2a3344" class="text-color">Renee Watson; Illustrated by Nikkolas Smith</span></p>

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith

Born on the Water is a lyrical picture book in verse from The 1619 Project chronicling the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor–winning author Renée Watson. With powerful text and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.

Born on the Water tells the story of a young student who receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Her Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.


Coming soon.

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Photo: James Estrin

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and creator of the landmark 1619 Project. In 2017, she received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as the Genius Grant, for her work on educational inequality. She has also won a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards, three National Magazine Awards, and the 2018 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University. In 2016, Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a training and mentorship organization geared toward increasing the number of investigative reporters of color. Hannah-Jones is the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she has founded the Center for Journalism and Democracy. In 2021, she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.

Nikkolas Smith

Photo: Vanessa Crocini

Nikkolas Smith

Nikkolas Smith, a native of Houston, Texas, is an Artivist, picture book author, and Hollywood film illustrator. He is the author/illustrator of The Golden Girls of Rio, nominated for an NAACP Image Award, My Hair Is Poofy & That’s Okay, and World Cup Women. As a Black illustrator, Nikkolas is focused on creating captivating art that can spark important conversations around social justice in today’s world and inspire meaningful change. Many of his viral, globally shared and published sketches are included in his book Sunday Sketch! The Art of Nikkolas. Nikkolas also speaks on his Artivism at conferences, workplaces, and schools around the world, and leads workshops in digital painting, character, and movie poster design. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit Nikkolas Smiths site.

Renée Watson

Photo: Shawnte Sims

Renée Watson

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Book Award. Her books for young readers include Harlems Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and Ways to Make Sunshine, which received the SCBWI Golden Kite Award. She has given readings and lectures at many renowned places including the United Nations, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Embassies in Japan and New Zealand. Renée is on the Council of Writers for the National Writing Project and is a member of the Academy of American Poets’ Education Advisory Council. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City. Learn more about Renée’s work.

Additional contributors of THE 1619 PROJECT: A New Origin Story, include Michelle Alexander, Leslie Alexander, Carol Anderson, Joshua Bennett, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jamelle Bouie, Anthea Butler, Matthew Desmond, Rita Dove, Camille Dungy, Cornelius Eady, Eve L. Ewing, Nikky Finney, Vievee Francis, Yaa Gyasi, Forrest Hamer, Terrance Hayes, Kimberly Annece Henderson, Jeneen Interlandi, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Barry Jenkins, Tyehimba Jess, Martha S. Jones, Robert Jones, Jr., Ibram X. Kendi,  Eddie Kendricks, Yusef Komunyakaa, Kevin Kruse, Kiese Laymon, Trymaine Lee, Jasmine Mans, Terry McMillan, Tiya Miles, Wesley Morris, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Lynn Nottage, ZZ Packer, Gregory Pardlo, Darryl Pinckney, Claudia Rankine, Jason Reynolds, Dorothy Roberts, Sonia Sanchez, Evie Shockley, Tim Seibles, Clint Smith, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Bryan Stevenson, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Natasha Trethewey, A. Van Jordan, Linda Villarosa, and Jesmyn Ward.

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