1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones channeled former Democratic Virginia gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, saying she didn’t understand the idea that “parents should decide what’s being taught” in schools.

Hannah-Jones made the comments during a special edition of the Meet the Press with Chuck Todd that focused exclusively on the topic of race and public schools.


“I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught. I’m not a professional educator,” Hannah-Jones said, “I don’t have a degree in social studies or science. We send our children to school because we want them to be taught by people who have expertise in the subject area.”

McAuliffe, who lost to Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in the November election, famously said that he didn’t think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach” during a September debate with now-Gov.-elect Youngkin.

Hannah-Jones alluded to McAuliffe’s comments during her Sunday appearance, saying the Democratic candidate’s comments are “just the fact” and are "why we send our children to school and don’t homeschool.”

The 1619 Project, which Hannah-Jones wrote for the New York Times in 2019, presents a view of American history that says America was founded upon racism and that the year the first slave ships arrived from Africa should be viewed as the true founding of America.

The project has been the subject of intense criticism over its presentation of American history, including accusations of inaccuracy and fabrication. Several state governments have banned the teaching of the project in public schools as part of larger public school curriculum bans on critical race theory, which says American institutions are systemically racist and oppressive to racial minorities.

In her conversation with Todd, Hannah-Jones defended her writing from the legislative pushback it has received.

“My project, which is a work of journalism in the New York Times,” Hannah-Jones said, “is banned by name in Georgia, in Florida, in Texas, there are efforts to ban the teaching of this history in Oklahoma, in South Dakota, in Tennessee. When we think about what type of society bans books or bans ideas, that is not a free and tolerant democratic society, that is a society that is veering towards authoritarianism”


“Unless people who believe in free speech, who believe in our children being intellectually challenged, begin to get organized and speak up, I think we’re going into a dark age of repression and suppression of the truth,” she said. “Really, these laws are paving the way for the taking of other political rights like voting rights, like women’s reproductive rights, like rights for LGBTQ people."