Virginia Public Library Dropped $40K on Speech From 1619 Project Creator

Nikole Hannah-Jones / Wikimedia Commons
October 28, 2022

A Virginia public library forked over $40,000 to the creator of the New York Times's 1619 Project to speak as part of its "banned books week," the Daily Wire reported on Thursday.

The Arlington Public Library paid Nikole Hannah-Jones the princely sum to deliver a speech titled "1619 and the Fight for Democracy." The talk focused almost entirely on backlash to her project, which claims that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. Historians have criticized Hannah-Jones and the Times for the 1619 Project's inaccuracies, although the project has not actually been banned.

Hannah-Jones is one of several American writers who rake in money from lucrative speaking engagements while accusing America of systemic racism. Universities and public school districts have paid Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi tens of thousands of dollars to give talks on concepts like "white fragility" and "antiracism."

The library's contract with Hannah-Jones prevented recording of the event and pledged to pay her $100,000 if the contract were breached. The talk was live-streamed on YouTube but has since gone private. It is still available on an internet archive.

The Daily Wire obtained internal correspondence from library officials that shows Hannah-Jones's visit pushed the library "$7,500 over and above the 'approved' budget." One official noted in the lead-up to the event that it was "getting a lot of very ignorant and negative comments" from community members.

The Pulitzer Center awarded Hannah-Jones a prize for the project and pushed for it to be part of school curricula nationwide. Hannah-Jones has walked back the project's scope at times, saying it is "not a history" but "a work of journalism."

The Washington Free Beacon was in attendance at the event, but the questioning period ended as its reporters approached the microphone.