Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post NPR Marie Claire
In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.
The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together 18 essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with 36 poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.
This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction - and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.
Cover image: Lorna Simpson Beclouded, 2018 Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.
Read by a full cast, including:
Nikole Hannah-Jones, January LaVoy, Claudia Rankine, Nikky Finney, Janina Edwards, Dorothy Roberts, Shayna Small, Terrance Hayes, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Yusef Komunyakaa, Eve L. Ewing, Karen Chilton, Aaron Goodson, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Erin Miles, Dominic Hoffman, Adenrele Ojo, Matthew Desmond, Tyehimba Jess, Tim Seibles, Jamelle Bouie, Cornelius Eady, Minka Wiltz, Martha S. Jones, Darryl Pinckney, ZZ Packer, Carol Anderson, Tracy K. Smith, Evie Shockley, Bryan Stevenson, William DeMeritt, Jasmine Mans, Trymaine Lee, A. Van Jordan, Yaa Gyasi, Linda Villarosa, Danez Smith, Terry McMillan, Anthea Butler, Rita Dove, Camille T. Dungy, Wesley Morris, Natasha Trethewey, Joshua Bennett, Chanté McCormick, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Ron Butler, Kevin M. Kruse, Bahni Turpin, Gregory Pardlo, Ibram X. Kendi, JD Jackson, Jason Reynolds, and Sonia Sanchez