Follow Us

Professors and historians call for withdrawal of ‘1619 Project’ Pulitzer Prize

The letter released Tuesday says the Project erased false claims in an attempt to deceive the public.

Published: October 7, 2020 11:05am

Updated: October 7, 2020 8:12pm

An open letter released Tuesday is calling on the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke its 2020 award for commentary to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her contributions to The New York Times' 1619 Project, in which the "true founding" of America is tied to the arrival of the first slave ships in North America.

Twenty-one scholars and public writers signed the letter posted on the National Association of Scholars website in support of rescinding the award.

"It turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence," the letter states. 

The board cited Hannah-Jones on May 4, 2020 for a "sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America's story, prompting public conversation about the nation's founding and evolution."

The essay and project ran into controversy quickly following its publication, as credible historians and the Times' own fact-checkers criticized it. Minor changes were made to the project as a whole, but Hannah-Jones dismissed any criticisms. 

Alterations were discovered last month when historian Phillip Magness compared original and digital versions, noticing changes between them. 

"The false claims were erased or altered with no explanation, and Hannah-Jones then proceeded to claim that she had never said or written what in fact she has said and written repeatedly, assertions that the Project materials also made," the letter explained. "The duplicity of attempting to alter the historical record in a manner intended to deceive the public is as serious an infraction against professional ethics as a journalist can commit."

The signatories are calling on the Pulitzer Prize Board to recognize their error by withdrawing the prize from Hannah-Jones. 

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News