90 Miles From Tyranny : 1776 Initiative Is Helping Turn Civics Education Around

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

1776 Initiative Is Helping Turn Civics Education Around












Entrepreneur and civil rights movement veteran Robert L. Woodson Sr. believes that American civics can help save our country—and that’s the mission of 1776, a major initiative launched earlier this year by the Woodson Center, which Woodson founded to give local leaders the training they need to improve their communities.

Featuring essays by notable scholars and writers such as Clarence Page, John McWhorter, and Carol M. Swain, and eventually a curriculum and multimedia resources, 1776 offers “perspectives that celebrate the progress America has made on delivering its promise of equality and opportunity and highlight the resilience of its people.”

A recipient of the Bradley Price and the Presidential Citizens Medal, Woodson began 1776 to counter The New York Times’ 1619 Project, a series of essays launched a year ago this month with a very different focus: It teaches that America is defined, now and forever, by slavery. As Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote in the 1619 Project’s lead essay: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

In Woodson’s view, the 1619 Project inculcates the “diabolical, self-destructive” idea that “all white Americans are oppressors and all black Americans are victims.”

“Though slavery and discrimination undeniably are a tragic part of our nation’s history,” Woodson notes, “we have made strides along its long and tortuous journey to realize its promise and abide by its founding principles.”

Woodson continues: “People are motivated to achieve and overcome the challenges that confront them when they learn about inspiring victories that are possible and are not barraged by constant reminders of injuries they have suffered.”

He points to the surprising number “of men and women who were born slaves” but “died as millionaires,” the existence of famous black business districts in cities such as Durham, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the midst of oppression and segregation, and heroes like baseball Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron as powerful examples for black uplift.

And it’s a lesson that Woodson knows firsthand.

Born in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood, he rose up beyond his circumstances through hard work, the support of his family, and a...




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