How Is the Story of America Told? Illuminating History to Better Understand the Past, the Present and Our Future

Participants, some carrying American flags, marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Photo by Peter Pettus, Library of Congress

History can be an exciting and fascinating window into the past—learning about inspiring people and how they helped create what we have today. But there are some parts of history that are painful and difficult to tell. Oftentimes these traumatic events in our past might be downplayed, misrepresented or left out altogether, depending on who is telling the story.

But as historian Ibram Xolani Kendi told WNYC in an interview about The 1619 Project, “In order to heal, we have to sometimes experience pain. We have to tell those difficult stories in order to look at our own current reality, because in order to truly see and understand why there are so many disparities in our country today, why so many people demean and degrade black people, we have to understand the story of slavery.”

There are a number of groundbreaking history projects launched this year which help fill in the gaps in history textbooks, to give students diverse perspectives on the past, which in turn helps us to understand the present, so that we don’t repeat unjust practices and can work toward building a healthier and more equal future for all.

Check out all the articles in this series:


The 1619 Project: Revealing the Truth About Slavery and Its Legacy


The 400 Years of Inequality Project Uses the Study of History to Create a More Equal Society


An Indigenous Peoples’ History for Young People


40th Anniversary of A People’s History of the United States. 

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