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Pulitzer Center Update March 29, 2024

The Black Feminist Tradition and The 1619 Project

Artwork by Adam Pendleton in The 1619 Project, page 15. 2019.

The Pulitzer Center is proud to partner with The New York Times Magazine on The 1619 Project to...

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Video by Daniel Vasta. United States, 2024.

Historical silences and omissions: Highlights from The 1619 Project Education Conference

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it seems an apt moment to reflect on the intersection of women’s history and The 1619 Project. At the intersection of these two subjects lie questions about race, gender, and history—particularly the connectedness of Black women’s history and 1619.

Aware of the absence of Black women from the historical record and inspired by the second wave of Black feminism, Black female scholars in the 1970s and 1980s began to do the work of recovering the voices and experiences of Black women. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Sharon Harley, Elsa Barkley Brown, Deborah Gray White, and Paula Giddings are just a few among this generation of scholars determined to center Black women in historical narratives. In so doing, not only did they create a new field of historical study, but they also forged a new intellectual tradition.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The 1619 Project, is part of this tradition. Her willingness to ask questions of historical silences and omissions, her insistence on centering the experiences and contributions of Black Americans in historical narratives, and her defiance of disciplinary bounds are evidence of her place in this tradition. Perhaps most importantly, The 1619 Project does what many great works in Black women’s intellectual tradition do. It dares to ask and answer how our historical understandings transform when we center people and events that were previously unseen, unheard, deemed insignificant, and relegated to the margins of history, thus radically changing our understanding of our society and the world around us.

I am honored to be part of a team that continues the work Hannah-Jones began with The 1619 Project. Over the last three years, the Pulitzer Center’s K-12 team has connected over 400 educators in 30 states through the 1619 Education Network. Collectively, these educators have engaged more than 10,500 students, ranging from pre-K to the graduate level, with The 1619 Project. Just last month, over two days, the annual 1619 Project Education Conference brought together Project contributors, Network members, and educators for panels, resource sharing, and discussion on ways to teach and increase awareness of the legacies of enslavement and the contributions of Black Americans to U.S. society.

I am excited that we continue to engage with this work innovatively—now through the 1619 Education Impact Grant. The grant is a pathway to continue expanding this intellectual tradition. It aims to support educators who are already engaged in this work. Most excitingly, the grant invites educators to practice the tradition’s tenets in innovative and creative ways, thus opening up possibilities for new ways of knowing, questioning, understanding, teaching, and learning in classrooms and communities nationwide.


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Some Pulitzer Center-supported projects have already won awards in 2024:

  • Grantee Krithika Varagur won an Overseas Press Club award for her project Love in the Time of Sickle Cell Anemia, which explores an underreported ethical dilemma faced by millions of people in the world, particularly in West Africa: whether to have children when there is a risk of sickle cell, a genetic blood disorder. 
  • Inside the Suspicion Machine,” a part of the Pulitzer Center-supported project Unlocking Europe’s Welfare Fraud Algorithms, won a 2024 Sigma Award for data journalism. The project, which included reporting by grantee Gabriel Geiger, obtained the computer code for the algorithm used to flag residents of Rotterdam, Netherlands, potentially cutting them off from services and targeting them for raids. The reporting uncovered that the algorithm predicted risk only marginally better than random chance and targeted people based on language and gender. 
  • Two Pulitzer Center-supported projects are competing as finalists for the WAN-IFRA Digital Media LATAM award. The award showcases the best projects in digital media journalism. Competing for the award, China: The Superpower of Seafood by Ian Urbina and Ed Ou is a four-year investigation examining human rights and environmental crimes on Chinese fishing ships and processing plants. Amazon Underworld by Rainforest Investigations Network Fellow Bram Ebus is an investigation uncovering crime dynamics of the Amazon region and a study of the changing social, cultural, and environmental impacts of illicit economies. 

Photo of the Week

Young Kayapó people play in the Branco River next to the Turedjam village. The river has been taken over by illegal mining in recent decades and its waters are dirty and contaminated. From the story “Indigenous Land With the Most Illegal Gold Mines in Brazil Has Bad Living Conditions.”  Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folha de S.Paulo. Brazil, 2023.

“Apesar da disposição do novo governo  de combater o garimpo em terras indígenas, a atividade ilegal persiste nos territórios … Para mostrar esses impactos nas comunidades indígenas documentamos a vida nas aldeias que estão cercadas pelo garimpo nos territórios mais afetados por essa atividade no país.”

Despite the new government's willingness to combat mining on Indigenous lands, illegal activity persists in the territories … To show these impacts on Indigenous communities, we documented life in the villages that are surrounded by mining in the territories most affected by this activity in the country.

—Lalo de Almeida

This message first appeared in the March 29, 2024, edition of the Pulitzer Center's weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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