Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, praised the controversial 1619 Project and its author Nikole Hannah-Jones during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day address at the University of Michigan two years ago.
In a January 2020 lecture, titled, “Black Women Leaders In The Civil Rights Movement Era And Beyond,” Jackson described Hannah-Jones as an “acclaimed investigative journalist” and highlighted Hannah-Jones’ “provocative” assertion that “the America that was born in 1776 was not the perfect union that it purported to be.”
A transcription of the lecture was published Thursday by The Daily Wire.
“[A]cclaimed investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (who happens to be a black woman) explains that the men who drafted and enacted the Constitution founded this nation on certain ideals: freedom; equality; democracy,” Jackson said at the time. “Yet, at the time they formulated these principles, the institution of slavery already existed in the colonies — ever since the year 1619, when 20-to-30 Africans who had been captured in their homeland arrived in the colonies by ship and were exchanged for goods.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
“Jones highlights the irony of the situation even further when she notes that at the very moment that Thomas Jefferson penned the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence, a black relative—a slave— had been brought into his office to serve him,” Jackson continued.
She added, “Thus, it is Jones’s provocative thesis that the America that was born in 1776 was not the perfect union that it purported to be, and that it is actually only through the hard work, struggles, and sacrifices of African Americans over the past two centuries that the United States has finally become the free nation that the Framers initially touted.”
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project at The New York Times Magazine is an ongoing initiative seeking 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.” Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary last year for the project and was named to TIME‘s list of the “100 most influential people.”
Historians have flagged the project for incorrect statements and interpretations. Five academic historians signed a letter claiming the 1619 Project got several elements of history wrong, including a claim that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve slavery. The Times has defended the project.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones poses for a portrait before taking the stage to discuss her new book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, with the Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida at a LA Times book club event on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
During the same 2020 lecture, Jackson cited the late Derrick Bell, whose works influenced the creation of CRT, and said his 1993 book, “Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism,” was an important part of her childhood.
If confirmed, Jackson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, would become the first Black women to sit on the Supreme Court.