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Letter: Students need life experience to absorb the 1619 project

Letter: Students need life experience to absorb the 1619 project

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I find Tony Messenger’s column, “Missouri Republicans embrace racism and censorship in trying to ban the 1619 Project” (April 29), offensive for two reasons. First, for the opprobrium he heaps upon Republicans. Second, for the praise he accords Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project essay.

The personal essay by Hannah-Jones introducing The New York Times 1619 Project was impassioned and beautifully written and important to read as such. It should not be taken as the historical study it purports to be. As a historian, I find it suspicious that she doesn’t use a single footnote. Opinions are stated as facts. Young students are not likely to be able to discern the difference between the author’s personal sentiments and historical facts.

As a parent, I would not want my children taught that “our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written,” as Hannah-Jones opines. Not all of our Founding Fathers were slave owners. We are not perfect, nor have we ever been, but our founding ideals are not false — not then, not ever.

Hannah-Jones said she didn’t understand her father’s patriotism and that it embarrassed her. I feel sorry for her. I respect her thought process and believe it is important to understanding racism in America. However, I don’t want impressionable children to read these sentiments before they have the life experience to be able to subject her beliefs to critical analysis.

Carol Shepley • St. Louis

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