We are looking forward to the publication of THE 1619 PROJECT: A New Origin Story, created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times Magazine, and The 1619 Project’s BORN ON THE WATER by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith.
The 1619 Project, which was launched in August 2019, has been one of the most consequential media events of this era. It has been read by millions, studied in classrooms all across the country, and invoked by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Its intensely debated central argument is that many aspects of American life have their roots in the system of slavery.
THE 1619 PROJECT: A New Origin Story is comprised of 18 essays and 36 creative works that come together to show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into nearly every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship, to capitalism, religion and our very democracy. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, even the way we remember.
“We could have found no better home for The 1619 Project book than with the brilliant Chris Jackson and his One World imprint,” said Hannah-Jones. “When we published The 1619 Project in 2019, none of us could have imagined all that it would become. The historic events that have since taken place in our country have only affirmed the thesis of, and necessity for, a project that grapples with how slavery, oppression and the struggle for Black liberation created the country we live in today. This book, with its expanded and new essays, will illuminate in surprising ways the indelible impact that this nation’s original sin continues to have on all of us in the belief that it is only by honestly confronting our past that we can build a country that lives up to its most majestic ideals.”
In BORN ON THE WATER, a young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. 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. With powerful verse 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 by centering the brutalities of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans.
“I do not know how to adequately express the honor and joy I feel to have co-written a children’s book with the illustrious Renée Watson that presents a new origin story for the millions of Black American children who, like myself, believed slavery erased our connection to our motherland and that we had no flag or land to claim,” Hannah-Jones said. “This book, with exquisite illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, does not seek to hide the pain and cruelty of slavery, but also affirms that Black culture predates our enslavement, that the Black American experience is also embodied by love and resistance, and that an inhumane system could never strip the humanity of a people. It is a story of affirmation for every Black child, and a story of America that will speak to every child no matter their race.”