Nikole Hannah-Jones – author of the controversial New York Times 1619 Project – was paid $50,000 by the Oregon Education Department for two seminars where she reportedly told children: ‘What we call American history is really white history.’
The Oregon Education Department (ODE) paid for the seminars out of funds for the The Every Day Matters program, which helps identity and solve students’ root causes for missing school.
The polarizing Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter was also paid $25,000 for an online Zoom lecture given to the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, The World Socialist Web Site reported in April.
Both speaking gigs were revealed in separate Freedom of Information requests by the the right-wing news outlet Campus Reform and the activist group Oregonians for Liberty in Education.
The hefty price tags on both events have come under scrutiny given that Hannah-Jones’ notoriety stems almost exclusively from her 1619 project – which has been widely panned by some historians for containing inaccuracies.
Nikole Hannah-Jones (left) – author of the controversial New York Times 1619 Project (right) – was paid $50,000 by the Oregon Education Department for two seminars where she reportedly told children: ‘What we call American history is really white history’
During one of the seminars, Chris Riser, an Oregon teacher who was reportedly suspended for a Black Lives Matter walkout, asked Jones why the facts in her project were important for students of European descent, according to Fox.
Hannah-Jones responded, in part, by saying that ‘what we call American history is really white history with a little bit of other people sprinkled in – but mostly to explain why white people have done what they do.’
The ‘standard’ history taught in American schools, Hannah-Jones said, depicted a ‘country that doesn’t actually exist. It’s a country that erases all of these other people who were here.’
Hannah-Jones is represented by the Lavin Agency, which regularly books guest speakers, but it’s unknown how many times Hannah-Jones was booked and what her fees are.
DailyMail.com emailed Charles Yao, Director of Intellectual Talent at the Lavin Agency who represents the New York Times reporter.
The Oregonians for Liberty Education took exception to Hannah-Jones’ price tag, telling Fox: ‘Spending seven months and $50,000 on these two webinars seems like a clear-cut case of counterproductive priorities.’
Marc Siegel, an ODE spokesperson, said sponsoring this event furthers The Every Day Matters program by helping black students feel welcomed and valued and added the 1619 Project is a ‘valuable resource’.
The ‘experiences of black students and families can and must be centered in our state, including the fullness of black histories and black futures,’ Siegel said in an email, which is included in its entirety below.
‘Centering the experience of black students and families helps black students feel valued and reflects blacks contribution in American history, which creates black student’s sense of belonging in the classroom.
‘Feeling welcome in the classroom boosts attendance, which boosts academic performance.’
‘They had not seen this type of demand for a print product of The New York Times, they said, since 2008, when people wanted copies of Obama’s historic presidency edition,’ Hannah-Jones told The Atlantic in a December 2019 story. ‘I know when I talk to people, they have said that they feel like they are understanding the architecture of their country in a way that they had not’
Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks at the 34th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York in January 2020
What is critical race theory? The concept dividing the nation which asserts that US institutions are inherently racist
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.
The 1619 Project itself has been a cultural lightening rod since its highly anticipated publication in 2019, drawing criticism from some historians who said it was a cynical and biased view of American history and contained inaccuracies and generalizations.
Former President Donald Trump slammed the series as ‘totally discredited’ and part of the ‘twisted web of lies’ that has caught fire in American universities that teach American is a ‘wicked and racist nation.’
He formed a ‘1776 Commission’ in response to teach ‘patriotism.’ It released a report this year before being ended by President Joe Biden.
The 1619 Project has been at the center of the debate to introduce critical race theory into the classroom.
Critical race theory teaches that racism is a social construct used to oppress people of color, and that it is present in almost all aspects of everyday life.
Its supporters say the theory helps illuminate the obstacles faced by BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) individuals in their everyday lives, that their white counterparts do not have to worry about.
Critics claim it is unnecessarily divisive, and teaches children that they are either victims or oppressors from an early age.
Its been passionately fought by both sides, and parents have pulled students out of high-end schools across the country for including it in their curriculums.
The Oregonians for Liberty Education, who are against the teaching critical race theory in the classroom, included an advice dubbed ‘How to navigate the minefields in teaching’
In this section was ‘advice from a lawyer friend’ who said, ‘Given that there are aspects of critical race theory that conflict with religious beliefs for many, a teacher or other school district employee may be able to ask for an accommodation that lets them opt out of the “critical race theory” portion of the training, if not the training as a whole.’
The 1619 Project debate affected Hannah-Jones’ tenure opportunity at The University of North Carolina, which rescinded its offer of a tenured journalism professor position after an intense backlash.
Instead, UNC officials will join its faculty this summer with a five-year contract.
A group of writers, historians, artists, athletes, and academics signed a letter supporting Hannah-Jones for the tenured position.
The New York Times has doggedly stood by its reporter even as the project has come under withering criticism by historians for its inaccuracies didn’t qualify for a permanent appointment.
Behind the New York Times’ hotly-contested 1619 Project: Critics claim the series was riddled with inaccuracies because authors ignored fact-checker’s notes
In August 2019 the New York Times Magazine published the 1619 project, a collection of essays, photo essays, short fiction pieces and poems aimed to ‘reframe’ American history based on the impact of slaves brought to the US.
It was published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies.
It argues that the nation’s birth was not 1776 with independence from the British crown, but in August 1619 with the arrival of a cargo ship of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans at Point Comfort in the colony of Virginia, which inaugurated the system of slavery.
The project argues that slavery was the country’s origin and out of it ‘grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.’
That includes economic might, industry, the electoral system, music, public health and education inequities, violence, income inequality, slang, and racial hatred.
However, the project is debated among historians for its factual accuracy.
In March 2020 historian Leslie M. Harris who served as a fact checker for the project said authors ignored her corrections, but believed the project was needed to correct prevailing historical narratives.
One aspect up for debate is the timeline.
Time Magazine said the first slaves arrived in 1526 in a Spanish colony in what is now South Carolina, 93 years prior to the landing in Jamestown.
Some experts say slaves first arrived at present-day Fort Monroe in Hampton, instead of Jamestown.
Others argue the first Africans in Virginia were indentured servants as laws on lifetime slavery didn’t appear till 17th century and early 18th century, but worked essentially as slaves.
Princeton historian Sean Wilentz criticized the 1619 Project’s ‘cynicism,’ according to the Atlantic magazine.
He distributed a letter signed by historians that asked the newspaper to correct what it said were factual errors.
The letter said the series was ‘ displacement of historical understanding by ideology.’
Newt Gingrich in a 2019 USA Today article said the project was a lie and that ‘there were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.’
In March 2020, the New York Times wrote a seemingly half-hearted ‘clarification’ to part of the 1619 project on a part of the series that said one of the primary reasons the colonists fought in the American Revolution was to protect slavery.
The clarification read: ‘We recognize that our original language could be read to suggest that protecting slavery was a primary motivation for all of the colonists. The passage has been changed to make clear that this was a primary motivation for some of the colonists. A note has been appended to the story as well’
Also that month, a professor, Leslie M. Harris, who helped fact-check the project wrote in Politico, said that she’d repeatedly argued against Hannah-Jones against the idea that the people who fought in the American Revolution to preserve slavery.
‘I vigorously disputed the claim,’ she wrote in the Politico op-ed. ‘Although slavery was certainly an issue in the American Revolution, the protection of slavery was not one of the main reasons the 13 Colonies went to war.’
Despite the expert’s advice, the Times published the story without changing the inaccuracy, something that ‘stunned’ Harris, she wrote.
‘In addition, the paper’s characterizations of slavery in early America reflected laws and practices more common in the antebellum era than in Colonial times, and did not accurately illustrate the varied experiences of the first generation of enslaved people that arrived in Virginia in 1619,’ Harris said, listing another inaccuracy.
Harris did contend that slavery was ‘central to’ the United States’ story, but that it was ‘not, in fact, founded to protect slavery.’