Nikole Hannah-Jones – Reframing the Legacy of Slavery with “The 1619 Project” | The Daily Show

Nikole Hannah-Jones – Reframing the Legacy of Slavery with “The 1619 Project” | The Daily Show

-Welcome to The Daily Show.
-Thank you. And congratulations on creating and working
with a group of people on a project that has gone on to
become more than just a moment, but rather, a rethinking
of America’s history. Let’s start with the “why”
behind this. I mean, history seems like
it has been written, so why try and write it again? Well, history has been written,
but, uh, it’s been written to tell us a certain story. And, uh, The 1619 Project is
trying to reframe that story. And it’s really about, uh,
the ongoing legacy of slavery. We’ve been taught that slavery
was a long time ago. -Mm-hmm.
-“Get over it,” which is something
nearly every black person -in this country hears
at some point. -Mm-hmm. And The 1619 Project
is really saying that, uh,
slavery was so foundational to America and its institutions that we are still suffering
from that legacy now. And it’s exploring the many ways
that we… that we still are. It’s interesting
that you’ve chosen the year 1619 because many people would say, “But this was
before America existed. “You know, why not start
at America’s founding, “and then not include the years
before when this was a colony and Virginia
and Britain were involved?” So why do you choose that point,
and why do you argue, more importantly,
that on the fourteenth…? You say,
“On the 400th anniversary “of this fateful moment,
it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.” Yes, so, it’s funny,
because this year is also the 400th anniversary
of the Mayflower. Yet, no one argues
that we shouldn’t learn about the Mayflower because
that predates the United States. -Interesting. -We know that
that was an important moment. Um, I would argue
that the White Lion, which was a ship
that arrived a year earlier carrying enslaved Africans,
was far more important to the American story, uh,
than 1620, than the Mayflower. So, no,
American hadn’t yet formed, but Virginia was
the first colony, -our institutions would come
out of the 13 colonies. -Mm-hmm. Uh, our legal system,
our cultural system, our political system. And certainly,
the anti-black racism that we still struggle with
is born at that moment. When you… when you start off
in this magazine, there’s a… there’s a really
beautiful passage in the beginning where you talk
about your personal journey and-and how you struggled
with your relationship with America as a country. And-and it’s a really beautiful
tale you tell about growing up, um,
you know, on the land where so many people had died
and toiled as-as enslaved people. You also talk about
how your father was a proud American and how you didn’t understand
how he could be proud to be American when America
seemed to be against him -in spite of everything
that he did. -Yes. How-how did you reconcile that, or-or did working through
this project change your view on-on how to be American
or how not to be American? Yeah, absolutely
working on the project changed my perspective
on my father. Um, I open the piece talking
about how my dad, -who was born in apartheid
Mississippi… -Mm-hmm. …uh, flew this flag in our front yard
on this giant flagpole. And he was one
of the only black people I knew who flew a flag in their yard, and I was deeply embarrassed
by that. Um, but as I started researching
for this project– and my essay is really about
how black Americans have had this pivotal role of actually
turning the United States into a democracy–
I got that he understood something that I didn’t,
that, um, no one has a right to take away
our citizenship and our right to think of ourselves
as American, because so much
of what black people have done is what has built
this very country that we get to live in today. What do you mean specifically
when you say that? Because that-that was…
that was an idea that I don’t think I had…
fully thought about before I read this magazine,
was the concept that… America’s foundation was a lie, in that it was a group
of promises that weren’t… that weren’t fulfilled,
you know? To both people of color
and to women, in many respects. And… and what you argue
in this magazine is that black people…
basically have the job of “making it a truth.” What-what did you mean by that? Absolutely.
So, when Thomas Jefferson writes those famous, uh, English words,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,” uh, he owns 130 human beings
at that time, including some
of his own family members. And he understands that, uh,
one-fifth of the population will enjoy none of those
rights and liberties. So we are founded
on a hypocrisy, on a paradox. -Mm-hmm. -But black people
read those words and said, “Oh, we’re gonna believe
that these words are true and apply to us, and fight.” Again and again,
we see them fighting. At the Revolution, the first
person to die for this country was a black man named Crispus
Attucks, who wasn’t free. We see that happening
with the abolitionist movement, largely led by black Americans. We see that happening
at the Civil War, with the Reconstruction
Amendment. And of course,
the civil rights movement, which brings the franchise to
large segments of, uh, America for the first time. So we… we said we were founded
as a democratic republic, but most Americans
could not vote at the time of the Constitution. Uh, but thanks largely to black
resistance and freedom struggle, we are as close
to a multiracial democracy -as we’ve ever been. -It’s a…
it’s a really beautiful story, in that… in that it’s told,
not through the lens of anger, but rather through the lens
of collecting stories, you know? -It’s… it’s a the facts…
-It goes a little angry. -A little angry? Oh.
-Just a little. It doesn’t feel like anger so
much as it feels like a truth. -Yeah.
-You know? What-what it has sparked,
though, is… is a fight over history
and how the history is told. -Yes. -You know,
once this magazine came out, there were many historians who,
you know, came after you and said: No, this is…
this is incorrect. The primary reason that America
sought its independence from Britain was not because
they wanted to maintain slavery, it was because of taxation
without representation. It wasn’t the primary cause. Why do you think
there’s such a resistance to slavery being
one of the primary causes of America breaking away
from Britain? Because we need to believe
as a country that, uh, our founding was pure, that yes, you know,
we had some troubles, including, um, holding
500,000 people in bondage, -Mm-hmm.
-um, but that largely, we were a nation founded
to be exceptional on these, uh, majestic ideas,
and that our founders, uh, though complicated men, were men who were righteous. But when you argue, uh,
that our founders were, many of them, very hypocritical, and that you can’t
just simply overlook the fact that slavery was a motivation
in some of the colonies. Yes, taxation was a motivation, but also, uh, the ability
to keep making a lot of money -off of human bondage.
-Right. That is very unsettling, not
just to the average American, but to historians
who have seen their job as protecting
that founding narrative. The difference is, you know,
when you’re black in this country, you don’t have
the luxury of pretending -that that history didn’t exist.
-Right. And what that history has done,
it’s really marginalized our story, um, when really,
the story of black people and slavery is central
to the, uh, United States. When you, when you worked
through this project, there are new pieces of
information that you discover, there-there are stories
that you find were never told
that need to be told, and I know you can’t write
about everything, but I was interested in whether
or not you would think that other countries
who were involved in slavery get off easier
than the United States because the one thing
they did differently to America as we know it is that they sort
of outsourced slavery, you know? If you think about whether
it was the Americas or Spain or many of these
other colonial nations, -their slaves were
in the countries. -Yes. And then they left those
countries, and were like, “We’re done with slavery,”
but they also don’t have to deal with the people
they enslaved, whereas America has
an interesting relationship, where you have to deal
with the people because they’re still here. So, not to, not to,
not to feel sorry for America, but do you think there’s also
a reckoning that should happen in this way in Europe maybe? Oh, for sure, all the colonial
powers need to have a reckoning. And reckoning
also needs to happen on the continent of Africa. But I think the fundamental
difference– there’s two– yes, uh, slavery occurred
in the bounds of the country -that would become America.
-Right. Um, but also of those
colonial powers, America’s the only country
that was founded on the idea -of individual rights
and liberties. -Interesting. That was founded on the idea
of God-given, inalienable rights. Um, none of those other
European– I mean, these were monarchies, they
weren’t founded on the idea that every person had
equal rights, but we were. So, that hypocrisy
really matters. And, um, of course,
I argue that that hypocrisy is why we have struggled
so much to get over and address the issue of slavery,
because it forces us to acknowledge this lie
at our founding. Before you go, one of the main
questions many people may have, and you see this,
unfortunately, all too often, is people saying, “Why do you
have to keep drudging this up? “Can’t we just move on?
It’s been 400 years. Now, can’t we just move on?” What do you hope would be
sparked by the conversations that come from a magazine that
delves into slavery like this? What, what do you, what do you
want someone who sits at home and says, they go, “Nikole,
I’m-I’m white and I, “I had nothing to do with this, and I don’t know
what you want me to do?” What would you hope
people take away? Uh, that’s a great question. Let me just say, for the record, nobody wants to get over slavery
more than black folks. -Uh, it’s not…
-(Noah laughing) (applause, cheering) It’s not to our benefit, right? So that the fact that our nation
can’t get over slavery has not benefitted black people
for a single day. But that’s the problem– we’ve never dealt with
the harm that was done. I’m 43 years old, and my father
was born into a Mississippi, where black people couldn’t
vote, black people couldn’t use public facilities–
that was all perfectly legal. We’re not far removed
from this past at all. And there’s never been, uh,
any effort to redress that harm. So, what I hope that people
would take from the magazine every single story
in the magazine starts with -America today.
-Mm-hmm. and shows how these things
about American life that you think are unrelated
to slavery actually are. And I hope by confronting
that truth, maybe we can finally start to
repair the harm that was done. And then finally, uh,
start to live up to be the country of our ideals. It’s a fantastic job,
fantastic magazine. Really wonderful
having you on the show. -Thank you.
-Thank you so much. To learn more about this
beautiful, amazing story, go to, that’s Nikole Hannah-Jones, everybody.


53 thoughts on “Nikole Hannah-Jones – Reframing the Legacy of Slavery with “The 1619 Project” | The Daily Show”

  • Didn’t know that the first ship the White Lion brought slaves to America before the mayflower came to America. The more you know, makes things more understandable on why things are the way they are now.

  • US government is a comedy right now, but it is not a funny comedy, why not Trevor become the president?! Then it will be really funny! Trump was funny just the first year now he is not funny anymore!

  • Sandra McIntyre says:

    My dad, born Canadian of ½ US descent, a naturalized US Citizen and Korean War Vet, felt and taught me the same as what her dad expressed.

  • The first person that came to America was a black man from Mali and later on when Christopher Columbus came he found African Gods monuments there…

  • Olympia Reinhart says:

    Hi Trevor
    Your next video: Trumps impeachment aquittal, state of the union & black American….is not made available in South Africa…?????????? please….think about us to when you post your videos…❗❗❗
    Greetings from home❗

  • American History is Black History. Teach American History all year long. Black History cant be taught the shortest month of the year.

  • 8:20 It hasn't been 400 years though, it's been barely 100, since slavery ended… The only reason slavery keeps getting brought up is because things HAVEN'T changed enough… Sure us white folk can't OWN a black person, but on an institutional level black people are still getting shit on every time they turn around… Don't even get me started on the American "Justice" system, because the prison system is the way it is as a direct result of slavery (check out the documentary "13th")… We are on the right track to seeing everyone treated as equals, but it's been a very slow process, and we've still got a Loooooooooong way to go, we are still basically just at the talking phase of all of this. There are still far to many people (EVEN BLACK PEOPLE) that won't acknowledge the problem. White washing is a hell of a lot more than just a problem with casting in Hollywood. This is world wide, not just a USA thing… There are certainly some places that are far better than the US, but there are also plenty of places much worse… Brazil's history with slavery and racism is TERRIBLE and still in a far worse place than that of the USA… This doesn't mean the USA doesn't need to continuing doing everything we can to make things right, but it's not an isolated problem.. The white Europeans that decided to steal black people away from Africa did so much damage… I genuinely hope the human race never allows something like that to happen again.. And the classic argument of "white people didn't know any better at the time" is total rubbish… They weren't enslaving their white neighbors, were they?! You can't tell me that any slave owner looked at the black PEOPLE they owned and actually believed that they were just "Animals" or "Beasts"… This was a matter of evil people doing evil things to make their lives better and the good people burying their heads in the sand.. I really don't know how anyone was able to justify slavery so recently in human history… Hell even 7000 years ago the Egyptians must have known what they were doing was wrong. As advanced as they were.. It's just another example of the powerful staying powerful off the sweat, blood and LIVES of people them deem beneath them.. And anyone that thinks this shit isn't still going on is burying their heads in the sand…

  • “Yes, taxation was a motivation but also the ability to keep making a lot of money off of human bondage… and the difference is when you’re a black person in this country, you don’t have the luxury of pretending that that history didn’t exist.” -Nikole Hannah-Jones (Reframing the Legacy of Slavery, ‘The 1619 Project’ | The Daily Show with, Trevor Noah, YouTube: 6:00 – 6:19, 02/09/2020)

  • What she and Trevor don’t seem to know is that “taxation without representation” or the Stamp Act was imposed on the colonies by King George because the king felt that England should reap more of the benefits (profits) of the slave trade from the colonies.

    Basically, the Stamp act was about over-charging the colonists for all official legal transactions which required official paperwork, not just postage stamps.

  • Now that the dems are finally through sucking up all the oxygen out the room with Trump’s impeachment, instead of getting back to the Reparations discussion/resolution they are back discussing immigration… (sigh) … THANK YOU so MUCH for this Trevor! ?? Great work Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Great interview guys! ??❤️ #ReparationsNow #BlackAgenda2020 #NoReparationsNoVote !

  • Ronald Daugherty says:

    thankyou Ms Jones, i learned something today , the ship that arrived in 1619 , i will definitely learn more about , thanks again for keeping me and other Black people , hopefully, ' on continously point' !

  • The education in the South has purposely under minded civil rights.

    "Daughters of the Confederacy," by Vox.

  • I’ve heard that in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, there was a condemnation of slavery, but it was removed for fear of losing support from the southern colonies. Whether or not it’s true, I don’t know.

  • Other countries dealt with their history of slavery by addressing and apologizing for it. The U.S. of course is more than a little reluctant to do anything of the sort for fear of tarnishing their "pure" origins.

  • Also check out "Hebrews 2 Negroes: wake up black America pt 1 & 2" on Amazon or Netflix. This goes deeper into some of our histories before slavery, during and where we are scattered in the world today. A black man put this together and it was incredibly eye-opening for me.

  • ⚠️Hypocrisy matters⚠️4:49
    After 1.5 centuries black people still have to have their right to vote ratified every 25 years as America still fights for its constitutional right to slavery as an Economic source.?

  • Yes, we all want to believe we are pure and our shit don't stink. Thank you for telling these truths and for presenting history in a way that is relatable too. What do we do about it today? What do we do with the information? As a middle-aged white woman, I always do my best to learn as much as possible so I can vote intelligently. In my city, which has a sick history of racism, many black people don't seek out information and they don't vote at all. I never thought about how, when the constitution was written, so many diverse populations were not free or not allowed to vote or participate in democracy. But, now that they can, many still don't. How do we get people, and especially those most effected by policies, to participate, to seek the information about history, to have civil conversations and to vote?


  • You know… he CALLS himself a "comedian".. but if this was his act, he'd never work again. An unfunny 'comedian'… of COURSE he's African…

  • Slavery. Indentured Servitude. Low cost labor pool. For-profit-prisons. Military Service. Student Debt. Racism. Slavery hasn't gone anywhere. The 1% is, as usual, the richest and most powerful and the rest of us just power the machinery that ultimately brings them their wealth. Americans must not be very good negotiators. Other nations may pay more in taxes but what they receive in return is something that American Society is expected to live without – you know – like universal health care which improved the lives of every citizen IN those nations and campaign finance reform which strengthened their democracies. Reject the 2010 Citizens United decision.

  • I'm glad she pointed out that Thomas Jefferson was also a slave owner and his famous statement was a hypocrisy. I think it had to be told especially now with racism and sexism a real prominent issue as well as someone in the presidency who basically detests any form of diversity.

  • Grumpy John TX Redneck RC says:

    ALL Earth's History Is A Total Lie!!! Like We Are Now The 6th Generation Of Humans Living On The Earth, A Race Of Giants Used To Live Here Also, Aliens Are REAL & Living Here Now, ETC! Soo Why Should This Issue Be Any Different??? Dumb-Asses…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *