1619 Project Read Along

How to join:

  • Stay tuned for the rest of our reading and event schedule

  • Grab a copy of the book from your local library or bookstore

  • Read the assigned chapter

  • Join the discussion on @OneWorldBooks on Instagram, use #The1619ProjectReadAlong, and tune into our virtual author tour

The 1619 Project Read Along: Capitalism with Matthew Desmond

Submit your questions about the "Capitalism" chapter below.

If you missed our first chapter discussion for "Democracy" with Nikole Hannah-Jones, check it out here.

Revisit this page between 1/23 at 9 AM EST and 1/25 at 9 AM EST to download the next two chapters.

Starting your own book club of The 1619 Project? For downloadable social media assets to organize your own discussion, check out the below.

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. 


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

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith

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.


K–12 Curriculum Guide for Born on the Water and A New Origin Story: For superintendents, administrators, curriculum development specialists, and classroom teachers.

Teacher’s Guide for The 1619 Project: Born on the Water: For classroom implementation by the teacher for grades K–8.

Teacher’s Guide for The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story: For classroom implementation by the teacher for grades 9–12.

Find more resources at 1619education.org, the Pulitzer Center's 1619 Project education portal, featuring unit plans, curricular materials, and testimonials from educators across the country who are using the book materials in their classrooms. Learn more about opportunities to get involved with the 1619 Project Education Network.

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.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story audiobook is read by Nikole Hannah-Jones and a Full Cast: 

  • “Preface: Origins” was written and read by Nikole Hannah-Jones 

  • “The White Lion” was written and read by Claudia Rankine 

  • “Democracy” was written and read by Nikole Hannah-Jones 

  • “Daughters of Azimuth” was written and read by Nikky Finney 

  • “Loving Me” was written by Vievee Francis and read by Janina Edwards 

  • “Race” was written and read by Dorothy Roberts 

  • “Conjured” was written by Honoree Fannone Jeffers and read by Shayna Small 

  • “A Ghazalled Sentence After ‘My People…Hold On’ by Eddie Kendricks and the Negro Act of 1740” was written and read by Terrance Hayes 

  • “Sugar” was written and read by Khalil Gibran Muhammad 

  • “First to Rise” was written and read by Yusef Komunyakaa 

  • “proof [dear Philis]” was written and read by Eve L. Ewing 

  • “Fear” was written by Leslie Alexander and Michelle Alexander and read by Karen Chilton 

  • “Freedom Is Not for Myself Alone” was written by Robert Jones, Jr. and read by Aaron Goodson 

  • “Other Persons” was written and read by Reginald Dwayne Betts 

  • “Dispossession” was written by Tiya Miles and read by Erin Miles 

  • “Trouble the Water” was written by Barry Jenkins and read by Dominic Hoffman 

  • “Sold South” was written by Jesymn Ward and read by Adenrele Ojo

  • “Capitalism” was written and read by Matthew Desmond 

  • “Fort Mose” was written and read by Tyehimba Jess 

  • “Before His Execution” was written and read by Tim Seibles 

  • “Politics” was written and read by Jamelle Bouie 

  • “We as People” was written and read by Cornelius Eady 

  • “A Letter to Harriet Hayden” was written by Lynn Nottage and read by Minka Wiltz 

  • “Citizenship” was written and read by Martha S. Jones 

  • “The Camp” was written and read by Darryl Pinckney 

  • “An Absolute Massacre” was written and read by ZZ Packer 

  • “Self-Defense” was written and read by Carol Anderson 

  • “Like to the Rushing of a Mighty Wind” was written and read by Tracy K. Smith 

  • “no car for colored [+] ladies (or, miss wells goes off [on] the rails)” was written and read by Evie Shockley 

  • “Punishment” was written and read by Bryan Stevenson 

  • “Race Riot” was written by Forrest Hamer and read by William DeMeritt 

  • “Greenwood” was written and read by Jasmine Mans 

  • “Inheritance” was written and read by Trymaine Lee 

  • “The New Negro” was written and read by A. Van Jordan 

  • “Bad Blood” was written and read by Yaa Gyasi 

  •  “Medicine” was written and read by Linda Villarosa 

  • “1955” was written and read by Danez Smith 

  • “From Behind the Counter” was written and read by Terry McMillan 

  • “Church” was written and read by Anthea Butler 

  • “Youth Sunday” was written and read by Rita Dove 

  • “On ‘Brevity’” was written and read by Camille T. Dungy 

  • “Music” was written and read by Wesley Morris 

  • “Quotidian” was written and read by Natasha Trethewey 

  • “The Panther Is a Virtual Animal” was written and read by Joshua Bennett 

  • “Healthcare” was written by Jeneen Interlandi and read by Chante McCormick 

  • “Unbought, Unbossed, Unbothered” was written and read by Nafissa Thompson-Spires 

  • “Crazy When You Smile” was written by Patricia Smith and read by Ron Butler 

  • “Traffic” was written and read by Kevin M. Kruse 

  • “Rainbows Aren’t Real, Are They?” was written by Kiese Laymon and read by Bahni Turpin 

  • “A Surname to Honor Their Mother” was written and read by Gregory Pardlo 

  • “Progress” was written and read by Ibram X. Kendi 

  • “At the Superdome After the Storm Has Passed” was written by Clint Smith and read by JD Jackson 

  • “Mother and Son” was written and read by Jason Reynolds 

  • “Justice” was written and read by Nikole Hannah-Jones 

  • “Progress Report” was written and read by Sonia Sanchez 

  • The timeline was read by January LaVoy.

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