Hulu to produce ‘1619’ series examining slavery

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Hulu has acquired the rights to stream a documentary series based on investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’s and The New York Times’s “The 1619 Project,” a multimedia series that tackled the history and legacy of slavery in the U.S. 

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams has been tapped to produce and oversee the project along with his producing partner co-executive producer Geoff Martz, according to a report from Variety.

Williams was the first African American director to win an Academy Award for his short film “Music by Prudence” in 2009.

Peabody Award-winning writer Shoshana Guy will serve as the series showrunner and executive producer.

The production is a collaboration between Lionsgate Television, The New York Times and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Variety reports.

“‘The 1619 Project’ is an essential reframing of American history,” Williams said to Variety. 

“Our most cherished ideals and achievements cannot be understood without acknowledging both systemic racism and the contributions of Black Americans,” Williams continued.

“And this isn’t just about the past — Black people are still fighting against both the legacy of this racism and its current incarnation. 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,” he said.

“The 1619 Project” was launched in 2019 to mark the year the first enslaved Africans arrived on U.S. soil. The project sought to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States.”

Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer for her work on the project in 2020.

“I could not ask for a more gifted and committed storyteller to entrust ‘The 1619 Project’ to than Roger Ross Williams,” Hannah-Jones told Variety. “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.”

Following its released, “The 1619 Project” garnered backlash. 

Leslie M. Harris, a history professor at Northwestern University who helped to fact check the project, alleged that her feedback about certain assertions Hannah-Jones made in the series were ignored. 

Harris published an op-ed for Politico last year detailing the claims she disputed, including the assertion that the Revolutionary War was partly caused by the American colonies wanting to protect slavery.

“I vigorously disputed the claim. Although slavery was certainly an issue in the American Revolution, the protection of slavery was not one of the main reasons the 13 Colonies went to war,” Harris wrote. “Despite my advice, the Times published the incorrect statement about the American Revolution anyway, in Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay.”

The series was also panned by the right.  

Former President Trump’s 1776 Commission was created in direct response to “The 1619 Project,” calling for “patriotic education” and sought to defend the founding fathers against accusations of hypocrisy for advancing freedom for “all men” while also defending slavery.

The commission was rescinded by President Biden shortly after his inauguration. 

Tags Donald Trump Hulu Joe Biden Lionsgate Nikole Hannah-Jones Oprah Winfrey Slavery in the United States The 1619 Project The New York Times
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