Hulu set to release ‘1619 Project’ docuseries
The New York Times’ much-maligned “1619 Project” is coming to a (small) screen near you.
The controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning series helmed by New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones is being adapted into a docuseries by Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams in partnership with Lionsgate Television, The New York Times, and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films.
The docuseries will make its streaming debut on Hulu “as part of a distribution agreement between Lionsgate and Disney General Entertainment Content’s BIPOC Creator Initiative” according to a statement Thursday.
“‘The 1619 Project’ is an essential reframing of American history. Our most cherished ideals and achievements cannot be understood without acknowledging both systemic racism and the contributions of Black Americans. And this isn’t just about the past—Black people are still fighting against both the legacy of this racism and its current incarnation,” Williams said. “I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to work with The New York Times, Lionsgate Television, Harpo Films and Hulu to translate the incredibly important ‘The 1619 Project’ into a documentary series.”
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“I could not ask for a more gifted and committed storyteller to entrust “The 1619 Project” to than Roger Ross Williams,” Hannah-Jones stated. “I have long admired the impact and authenticity of his filmmaking, and the fact that we’re working with Disney and Hulu aligns with our vision of partnering with the world’s greatest Black storytellers to bring this project to a global audience.”
The 2019 feature, which was meant to mark the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves arriving in colonial Virginia, aims to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
The project, however, sparked an intense backlash from historians for pushing a misleading narrative about slavery’s role in the American Revolution, among other inaccuracies
“It is one of the most diabolical, self-destructive ideas that I’ve ever heard,” civil rights icon Robert Woodson said in reaction to the piece.
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The series was even criticized by one of Hannah-Jones’ colleagues, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.
“Journalists are, most often, in the business of writing the first rough draft of history, not trying to have the last word on it. We are best when we try to tell truths with a lowercase t, following evidence in directions unseen, not the capital-T truth of a pre-established narrative in which inconvenient facts get discarded,” Stephens wrote last year. “And we’re supposed to report and comment on the political and cultural issues of the day, not become the issue itself. As fresh concerns make clear, on these points — and for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.”
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