Review: ‘The 1619 Project’ Hulu docuseries


Photo courtesy of Hulu.

Melany Martinez, Reporter

It’s impossible not to say that “The 1619 Project” was a phenomenal concept when it premiered in the New York Times Magazine in 2019. The controversy and conversations sparked by author and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ project were never-ending, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of essays captivated readers and ignited discussions on how Black history in the United States has been largely unexamined for years.

Following the success with her essay series, Hannah-Jones decided to make a new adaption – a six-part limited documentary series on Hulu under the same name. She examines and digs into the legacy of slavery and how it has shaped American life with the events that occurred during the project’s title year.

The show isn’t the easiest to watch, but it is a great learning experience to gain knowledge and information on what occurred during this time.

The docuseries expands on Hannah-Jones’ writings, with each episode broken up into a specific topic. Some of the topics include justice, fear, capitalism and music. As you watch the series, you are able to understand the value of contributions from Black culture and what they mean to people.

Being both the narrator and producer of the series, we can see how personal the process of making this was for Hannah-Jones. Many of the experiences and struggles she discusses hit close to home for her and her family. Hannah-Jones says she knew at a very young age that the United States was built on racism. Her confusion and interest in finding out why our country is built that way led her to research this deeper.

CSUN hosted an event on Feb. 10, where Hannah-Jones attended and spoke to the CSUN community about her research.

During her discussion, she stated, “I predicted, of course, there would be a backlash to the project. You don’t make the project’s arguments and do not expect backlash.”

The expected backlash occurred after she released her essay series in the The New York Times Magazine, but it escalated after it gained the attention of former president Donald Trump.

“The 1619 Project” docuseries has a slightly different take on Hannah-Jones’ book and allows the audience to visualize more of what she wrote. In seeing these parts of history unfold on a screen instead of reading them, the audience can connect emotionally and better understand the events being shown.

Although some may find the topic difficult, the docuseries does its job by focusing on the enslavement of Black people and the social issues that followed.