Acton Institute Powerblog

Acton Line podcast: Critiquing the 1619 Project with Phil Magness

Since debuting in the New York Times Magazine on August 14, 2019, the 1619 Project has ignited a debate about American history, the founding of the country and the legacy emanating from the nation’s history with chattel slavery.

The project’s creator and editor, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has described the project as seeking to place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” Components of a related school curriculum have been adopted in major cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York.

For her work on the project, Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

But the project has also come in for heavy criticism from historians and economists of all political and philosophical persuasions for inaccuracies in “matters of verifiable fact” in history and economics.

In response to these critics, Hannah-Jones just recently declared the project not a work history, but instead a work of journalism.

One of the project’s most frequent critics is Phil Magness, Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

On this episode, Phil Magness discusses the objectives of the 1619 project, the economic history of slavery, the project’s historical errors and why many Americans seem to have such a difficult time accepting the complicated totality of our own history.

Phillip W. Magness at the American Institute for Economic Research

The 1619 Project – The New York Times Magazine

The 1619 Project: A Critique – Phil Magness

Public Schools Are Teaching The 1619 Project in Class, Despite Concerns From Historians – Reason

Karl Marx: Intellectual father of the 1619 Project? – Rev. Ben Johnson

The 1619 Projection: 3 lies Pulitzer should not reward – Rev. Ben Johnson

Eric Kohn

Eric Kohn is director of communications at the Acton Institute. In that role, he works to bring Acton's vision of a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles to a wider audience. Prior to joining Acton, Eric was director of community management at the Illinois Policy Institute, one of the nation's premier state-based think tanks. He was also the founder and CEO of Curious Task Strategies, a public affairs consulting firm. Eric is the leader of the Chicago chapter of America’s Future Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing the next generation of classical liberal leaders in Chicago. Along with Joe Kaiser, Eric hosts Sources with Knowledge, which airs Sundays at 3pm on News/Talk 560 The Answer in Chicago and is available on numerous podcast feeds. He previously hosted The Eric Kohn Program on 1530-AM WJJG, and has guest-hosted the nationally syndicated The Guy Benson Show, Illinois Watchdog Radio on Cities 92.9FM in Bloomington-Normal, and Chicago’s Morning Answer on News/Talk 560 The Answer. He has appeared as a commentator on Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont, Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg, The Michael Koolidge Show, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and numerous news broadcasts in the Chicagoland area. Eric’s writings have appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Belleville News-Democrat and other publications. Eric grew up in Belleville, Ill., and is a graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.