Primary Source Exercise


Last week you read the essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones titled “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.  Black Americans have fought to make them true.”  The New York Times Magazine published this essay on August 14, 2019. (Keep in mind for this primary source exercise: author, title, publication, date.)  This essay, along with the companion essays by other journalists in the “1619 Project,” has been a topic of public debate in the United States for a number of reasons; it has also been read in the context of recent episodes of police violence, Black Lives Matter protests, and Trump’s constant tweets. Here’s the primary source exercise: the year is now 2059 (forty years in the future) and you are a historian whose research focuses on the United States in the early 21st century.  You come across this essay by Ms. Hannah-Jones and you decide to write a 250-word analysis of its content and the author’s perspective on Black Americans’ important role in U.S. history.  What do you write?

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