1619, George Floyd and American Civil Religion

1619, George Floyd and American Civil Religion
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Years from now, when we look back on the still-ongoing George Floyd protests, Americans will have a new framework at their disposal as we come to terms with these weeks — one that wasn’t available for either their recent, post-Ferguson precursors, or those of the 1960s.
This is the suggestion, offered by the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” that the true founding of the United States occurred not in 1776 or 1787, but with the arrival of the first African slaves. When Nikole Hannah-Jones’s introductory essay received a Pulitzer Prize for commentary last month, debates about the project’s veracity reignited. It’s a contentious discourse in which claims and counter-claims start to sound less like reasoned disagreement about the historical record than like accusations of blasphemy.

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