The 1619 Project, which has been praised for reframing our understanding of American history, but attacked by conservatives who brand it as “woke-ism,” won Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series tonight at the Creative Arts Emmys.
Executive producers Oprah Winfrey, Roger Ross Williams, Shoshanna Guy, The New York Times’ Kathleen Lingo, and Nikole Hannah-Jones are among those who earned trophies for their work on the six-part Hulu series. Hannah-Jones, who hosts the series, created the original 1619 Project for the New York Times to mark the 400-year anniversary of the first arrival of African captives on the shores of what would become the United States. The Pulitzer Prize-winning project aimed to place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative,” according to the newspaper.
In 2020, then-President Trump condemned the series as “toxic propaganda and ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country.” In response to it, he signed an executive order to create a 1776 Commission that would promote “patriotic education.” The State of Florida, meanwhile, banned teaching of The 1619 Project in classrooms. In July 2023 Florida’s State Board of Education approved new standards under which students are taught that slavery benefited some Black people because it allowed them to acquire “useful skills.”
“When you look at this effort to really explicitly sanitize the history of slavery,” Hannah-Jones told Deadline last August, “it is because of a pushback against The 1619 Project and so many of the texts it was based upon that are offering a counter narrative to the mythology of America.”
The 1619 Project premiered on Hulu last January. At that time, Hannah-Jones told Deadline, “We hope that when people watch the series, no matter what their race is, they do understand that we will collectively rise or collectively struggle together. And until we face up to our past, it seems we’re destined to struggle.”
Williams, an Oscar winner for Music By Prudence, directed two episodes of The 1619 Project as well as serving as an executive producer on the series. He is in contention for Oscar consideration for his Netflix documentary film Stamped From the Beginning, which also examines the origins and impact of racist ideology in the United States. That film is based on Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s bestselling nonfiction book, which has been banned from public school libraries in Florida and other states.