McConnell: 1619, the year Blacks were enslaved in US, not ‘most important’ point in history

Sen. Mitch McConnell speaking at the University of Louisville on Monday, May 3, 2021.
Sen. Mitch McConnell speaking at the University of Louisville on Monday, May 3, 2021.(WAVE 3 News)
Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 6:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Senator Mitch McConnell has drawn criticism over comments he made during a visit to the University of Louisville Monday about the history of African American slavery in the United States.

“There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history,” McConnell said during a question and answer segment with reporters. “I simply disagree with the notion that the New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years.”

McConnell was referring to the 1619 Project, which is a New York Times initiative that emphasizes the significance of the year in which the first Africans were brought to Virginia and sold into slavery.

The Kentucky senator continued on to say racism is an “original sin” that American society is still working to get past, though it has been an issue for 200 years.

“We are still working on it. I just simply do not think that’s part of the core underpinning of what American civic education ought to be about,” McConnell said. “This is about American history and the most important dates in history. My view, and I think most Americans, think dates like 1776, the Declaration of Independence, 1787, the Constitution, 1861 to 1865, the Civil War, are some of the basic tenants of American history.”

Last week, McConnell and nearly 40 other Senate Republicans sent a letter to the United States Education Secretary criticizing a proposed plan to prioritize educational efforts that focus on systemic racism in U.S. history.

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