Student Question

Why is studying the intersection of race and capitalism important in understanding our country's origins?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The 1619 Project was started at the New York Times in 2019 to revise US history so that the importance of slavery to US prosperity could be more clearly understood. 1619 is the year that the first slaves were brought to America. Understanding the intersection between race and capitalism in our country's origins is important because the very cheap labor provided by captive slaves is responsible for much of the wealth created by the American colonies—and for much of the South's wealth prior to the Civil War. Supporters of the 1619 Project believe this fact should be acknowledged and highlighted more fully than it has been.

The Saving American History Act of 2020 is a piece of proposed Congressional legislation, cosponsored by Representative Rick Allen in Georgia and Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, both Republicans, that would ban using federal funds to teach the 1619 Project curriculum. It exists because some segments of American society do not support a revised version of American history.

Underlying these two positions are the culture wars that began in the 1960s. While facts can be difficult to dispute, interpretations of facts and what should be emphasized in history classes are debatable and can be used for political fodder.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial