The profound and wide-ranging role played by slavery in American history – and contemporary life – is the subject of a multipart New York Times project that debuted this week.

The project drew widespread praise, but also criticism from a chorus that rejected its thesis.

Kelley Fanto Deetz, a scholar of the African diaspora at the University of Virginia, writes that the criticisms are “akin to the recurring social media mantra over recent years that America shouldn’t be blamed, it didn’t invent slavery, and that it’s been around forever.”

Deetz provides a historian’s corrective.

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Screen Shot of the New York Times homepage for its series, “1619.” New York Times

Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America

Kelley Fanto Deetz, University of Virginia

A historian says that critics get the past wrong.

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