Woodson has been a fervent critic of the 1619 Project from the get go, declaring that it insults black Americans by suggesting they are not in control of their own destiny.
In February 2020, he founded a counter to the 1619 Project, named 1776 United, which sets out to “promote current and historical examples of prosperous black communities as a powerful refutation of the claim that the destiny of black Americans is determined by what whites do, or what they have done in the past.”
Woodson on Thursday criticized the Roosevelt Institution's decision, accusing Hannah-Jones of 'fostering anti-American sentiment.'
He told Fox News that 'she has given aid and comfort to those who speak out against the founding principles of the country.' “It's kind of like an arsonist being honored at the firefighter's convention,” Woodson stated.
He went on to note that when Claremont McKenna College professor Charles Kesler suggested the George Floyd riots throughout the summer of 2020 should be named 'the 1619 riots,' Hannah-Jones responded with a tweet saying she would be 'honored'. She later deleted the tweet.
”That seems like a strange thing for someone who's being honored for free speech to have this happen,” stressed Woodson.
”People who advocate critical race theory and 1619 have been at the forefront of cancel culture.”
”It's ironic that Nikole Hannah-Jones would be honored for freedom of speech.” The Roosevelt Institute - founded in 1972 “to carry forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt by developing progressive ideas and bold leadership in the service of restoring America's promise of opportunity for all” - agreed that Hannah-Jones was in fact a worthy winner.
They praised her 'visionary work that exposed the systemic and institutionalized racism embedded in our country's laws and policies,' and her 'commitment to mentoring and training investigative reporters of color.'
Yet Woodson, 84, whose own foundation, the Woodson Center, backs community-based initiatives to help low-income areas, expressed dismay by the decision.
”As a veteran of the civil rights movement myself, what I find most disheartening is their support of the dumbing down of standards,”he noted, accusing Hannah-Jones of choosing to “ignore that history of excellence and achievement against the odds and instead demand that the standards be lowered because blacks can't compete.”
He said he rejected Hannah-Jones's theory of systemic racism, saying it reduced black Americans to victims. “It is very, very insulting to black America,” Woodson said.