On a crisp Saturday morning, dozens of invited guests and media gathered at The Gathering Spot in Midtown Atlanta for a discussion about the new The 1619 Project docu-series which began airing on Hulu this week.
With the New York Times best seller and new six-part docuseries as the focus of the morning’s event, the groundbreaking project’s editor, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, was on hand as the featured speaker. She was interviewed by The Gathering Spot co-founder Ryan Wilson.
Hannah-Jones was dressed in all black and her signature flaming red hair set the tone for the conversation to come. Asked by Wilson how she is feeling about the docuseries being out- the first two parts, Democracy and Race are available now on Hulu- Hannah-Jones said, “It feels fucking great. I’m still processing it in some ways.”
The 1619 Project is now being studied in schools, mass produced in hard copy, paperback and e-books. It is arguably the most important Black-focused historical text of the last decade, equally as influential as Alex Haley’s Roots and Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns. Now there is a docu-series that can further pass the story of Black people’s continued fight for equality.
Despite the success and reach of The 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones believes conversations and discussions like the one that took place Saturday neither give her hope or despair. Series like The 1619 Project is designed to be digested as fact. Plain and simple.
“If you study our history, sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic,” Hannah-Jones admitted. I’m not optimistic, I’m a realist.”
Hannah-Jones also spoke about the power of language and the import of gathering. There was once a time in this country that Black people were not allowed to speak amongst themselves or to gather amongst themselves.
On language she used the example of how in The 1619 Project the word “plantation” is not sanitized and instead referred to as slave labor camps. “The language is part of the crime,” Hannah-Jones said.
On Gathering, Hannah-Jones says these spaces like The Gathering Spot and others are critical for us. She referred to places like these as where “you come to get rejuvenated and how you plot your plans for the future.”
Hulu has more than 47 million subscribers in the United States, according to data provided by techjury.com. The opportunity to get the facts on the year 1619 and was has begotten Black people from that point of origin can make it into more American homes than any school book. And now, it might be more important than ever to tell these stories. Our stories. Hannah-Jones said said the year 1619 and what has followed can’t be ignored despite the efforts by many state governments, including Georgia and neighboring Florida, to reduce or complete abolish what has been termed “critical race theory” from schools.
“What you don’t have the right is not do anything,” Hannah-Jones said.