Slavery or freedom: The conception of America

The National Association of Scholars is hosting an online conference responding to the odious Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project promulgated by the New York Times. The conference began yesterday and runs through Friday.

After a welcome by NAS president Peter Wood, Peter Kirsanow kicked off the conference with a sort of keynote speech. Kirsanow was followed by Professors Diana Schaub speaking on Frederick Douglass and John Stauffer on the white abolitionist tradition. They are to be followed later today by Professors Susan Hanssen and Paul Rahe. Other lectures, panels, and events follow the rest of the week.

This is my point, and I do have one. The opening presentations are accessible here along with a schedule of coming attractions and this introduction to the week’s festivities:

How should we teach American history? The New York Times’ 1619 Project and associated curriculum disseminated by the Pulitzer Center teaches a polemical narrative of oppression, shorn of nuance, context, or historical accuracy. Yet, this narrative has had success in persuading minds across the nation and beyond that the “America the exceptional nation” story is wrong, misguided, and fails to tell the whole truth.

How do we, as Americans, reconcile these two narratives? Should we?

This webinar conference will address how we understand and teach America’s founding: should we place the ideals of liberty or the institution of slavery as the foundation of American history?

This is a worthy effort to recapture our history and its true meaning from those who seek to tear down our country. I think many readers will find it a source of illumination and inspiration in a dark time.

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