Embracing ‘Radical Hopefulness’
Today marks the start of the Pulitzer Center’s three-month engagement with The 1619 Project on Lift Black Voices, the Facebook hub for discussing issues of importance to the Black community in America. We are also pleased to introduce the 42 teams from 22 states that make up the inaugural cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network.
On Lift Black Voices this month, we’ll focus on health care disparities in the United States, drawing from essays included in The 1619 Project and related work from the Pulitzer Center. In August and September we’ll be addressing inequities in education and the impact of 1619 more generally on a national debate that is long overdue.
I hope you’ll join us on Lift Black Voices and that you’ll also check out the extraordinary mix of educators who have joined the 1619 Education Network. I think you’ll be surprised. First, by the range of educational activity and thoughtful engagement that has been inspired by The New York Times Magazine’s landmark exploration of slavery’s continuing impact on American life. And second, by the contrast between the actual classroom approaches to this topic and the overheated depictions by critics out to score political points.
The teachers in our network come from cities big and small and from states red and blue. They are history, English, and social studies teachers—and teachers of art, Special Education, and English as a Second Language.
One school in Central Florida is focused on work with incarcerated students on the history of food. At another, in Georgetown, Kentucky, the goal is surfacing marginalized voices in world and U.S. history courses. Multiple teams are involved through the Chicago Public Schools, working on everything from literacy and social studies for grades four and five to helping middle-grade English Language learners and Special Education students explore their own roles in upholding democracy. The Pittsburgh Public Schools Visual Arts Department calls its initiative the “Radical Hopefulness Project,” helping visual arts students in grades six-12 explore our past histories and present stories.
Radical hopefulness: I like that!
Mark Schulte, our K-12 education director, makes a similar point in his introduction of our work with Lift Black Voices:
“What’s lost in the debate over the teaching of The 1619 Project in schools is its brave message of healing and uplift — that in recognizing the unique role of Black Americans in shaping our society we can both better understand who we are as a nation and also move forward together with more honesty, justice, and unity.”
Photo: Courtesy of New York Times Magazine, United States, 2019.