NY Times Turning 1619 Slavery Project Into a Book

November 1st, 2019 10:53 AM

More than two months after the New York Times began an ambitious plan to “reframe” the history of slavery in this country, the August 18 issue of the newspaper’s magazine referring to the 1619 Project has sold out in the publication’s online store.

In addition, supporters of the effort have encouraged its producers to add to their crusade by expanding the articles into a book.

In the current issue of the newsletter produced by Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s weekly Reliable Sources program stated that the issue “had an incredible impact when it was first published. ... More and more customers clamored for copies -- and the issue is now listed as ‘sold out’ in the NYT store.”

Because the edition “had an incredible impact when it was first published,” Stelter stated it comes as  “no surprise that publishers are clamoring to come out with a 1619 Project book.”

“Numerous editors have been cycling through NYT HQ for meetings about potential books,” he added. “A Times spokesman confirms the meetings but declines further comment.”

One of the pages on the store’s website describes the initial issue as “an ambitious collection of journalism and historical inquiry that examines the many aspects of contemporary American life that can be traced back to slavery.”

In addition, the 96-page issue “contains more than 80 pages of historical essays. It also includes 17 original literary works by contemporary black writers that bring to life key moments in African-American history and original artwork by leading black artists.”

“The 16-page newspaper section, which was produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, explores slavery’s disturbing history,” the item added.

An article posted by the Times on Wednesday provided some context to the project:

Four hundred years ago, a ship carrying 20 to 30 enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort in the English colony of Virginia.

Though the United States did not even exist yet, their arrival marked its foundation, the beginning of the system of slavery on which the country was built.

Meanwhile, the store’s website added that the effort “examines the many ways the legacy of slavery continues to shape and define life in the United States” while being “read widely across the country … and is changing how American history is taught in schools today.”

NewsBusters reported in mid-August that the plan “aims to reframe the country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are." 

At that point, the Times promised more 1619 Project stories in the future, not just in the paper's news reporting, but also in the business, sports and travel sections. The newspaper's podcast The Daily, which airs on several National Public Radio stations, was also set to devote time to the story.

Of course, it wasn’t long before NPR morning talk show host Joshua Johnson devoted the first hour of his program to promoting the project, which was described as “the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken” by a newspaper “to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump.”

As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, Jazmine Hughes, one of the writers of the original document, was found to have made several controversial tweets mocking white people and Jews on her Twitter account before and after she was hired by the Times with no apparent consequence.