In order to combat the narrative of the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC) which argues that America is and has always been a cauldron of unrelenting White Supremacy—a narrative that pervades our cultural institutions and which was recently manifested in the so-called “1619 Project”—a group of mostly black scholars, writers, educators, activists, journalists, and entrepreneurs have assembled to promote a decidedly different vision of America embodied by their “1776 Project.”
Shelby Steele, Robert Woodson, Carol Swain, Clarence Page, and John McWhorter are among the more prominent of the black contributors to this endeavor.
The 1776 Project’s Mission Statement is as follows:
‘1776’ is an assembly of independent voices who uphold our country’s authentic founding virtues and values and challenge those who assert America is forever defined by its past failures, such as slavery. We seek to offer alternative perspectives that celebrate the progress America has made on delivering its promise of equality and opportunity and highlight the resilience of its people. Our focus is on solving problems.
We do this in the spirit of 1776, the date of America’s true founding.
Robert Woodson (pictured above), who is President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, characterizes the conventional RIC narrative of the 1619 Project as “lethal,” “garbage,” “debilitating and dangerous.” And he accuses its peddlers of hypocrisy, for “the scholars and writers from 1619…don’t live in communities” that are “suffering.”
Thus, they “don’t have to pay the penalty” that Woodson and his black colleagues at the 1776 Project are convinced is the outcome of buying the tale of endemic White Racism and Black Oppression. Woodson elaborates: “People are motivated to achieve, and overcome the challenges that confront them, when they learn about inspiring victories that are possible and not barraged by constant reminders of injuries they have suffered.”
The 1776 Project features some remarkable accounts of black perseverance—and success—in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Precisely because such stories contradict RIC’s fictions and fantasies, and academia has long since become an arm of the Racism-Industrial-Complex (or “the Racial Grievance Industry,” as it is alternatively referred to by Woodson and others), they will not be appearing in any academic history textbooks anytime soon. Still, because they serve as powerful testimony to the indomitable spirit, not just of those black Americans from yesteryear that prevailed over the most formidable of obstacles, but that of humanity itself, they need to be recounted.
It is worth quoting Woodson at length:
In truth, even during the times of the worst oppression, there were blacks who were in slavery but not of slavery—who maintained a strong moral code and a belief in self-determination and mutual support that allowed them to rise. A surprising number of black men and women who were born slaves died as millionaires (boldface original).
Even in the era of legislated segregation and discrimination, blacks tapped an entrepreneurial legacy to launch thriving enterprises, including hotels, banks, hospitals, dental schools, insurance companies, and a railroad. In fact, the black business district of Durham, N.C., was widely known as ‘Black Wall Street’ (boldface original).
There were still other prominent bastions of the free-enterprise spirit among black Americans during the period of Jim Crow.
Another famous black entrepreneurial enclave was the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Okla. When oil was discovered in Tulsa in the early 1900s, the city underwent an enormous growth spurt. Though African Americans were not allowed to create business ventures in the major district and were not even welcomed as customers in the white business district, rather than taking service jobs and doing domestic service labor for others, many adventurous blacks chose to develop their own business district. By 1921, the business enclave had developed into an impressive array of enterprises (boldface original).
The story, though, does not end here.
Tragically, in that year, a young black delivery man was falsely accused of attacking a white woman. Tensions rose and erupted into chaos as a mob of angry whites looted stores, shot at blacks in the streets, and torched businesses, homes, and churches. In this violence, 860 African American businesses and homes were destroyed and, afterward, the Greenwood business section lay in ruins. Undaunted, and displaying the same entrepreneurial spirit that initially built the Greenwood section, blacks joined together in a massive effort of rebuilding. By 1938, business enterprises and community organizations once again anchored the community (boldface original).
This spectrum of achievement is a powerful refutation of the claim that the destiny of black Americans is determined by what whites do—or what they have done in the past.
Woodson also notes the essential role that the Christian faith of black Americans played in preserving and strengthening their families and communities throughout much of their history.
This faith still lives through people like Latasha and Ronald Fields. The Fields are a married couple who, in addition to being Overseers and Pastors of Our Report Ministries & Publications (in Chicago, Ill.), are founders of a Christian Homeschool Academy and the Christian Home Educators Support System (CHESS).
Then there is Bishop Shirley Stanfill, the Senior Pastor of Kingdom of Word Church and founder of the nonprofit organization, House of Help, City of Hope. According to her bio, she “is now a developer, landlord, and executor of real estate acquisitions and has revitalized a conglomerate of properties in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area.”
Stanfill’s organization “has been the driving force behind the inspiration and motivation of over 60,000 individuals—helping them to restore, establish, and strengthen themselves back to stable and respectable lives through 24/7 programs that target addiction, relapse prevention and generational homelessness.”
Bishop Stanfill also established the “From Homelessness to Home Ownership Program,” a program “that helps to transform substance abusers into home owners.”
The jewels to be gotten from the 1776 Project can only be hinted at here. Americans of all backgrounds promise to be well-served, in more than one way, by visiting it.
It is a richly deserved, and decisive, antidote to the toxic lies of the 1619 Project—and those of the whole Racism-Industrial-Complex.