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The Brian Ferguson Interview

Thursday, January 26, 2023


A little over three years ago, after The 1619 Project was first published, The New York Times began the process of turning it into a television documentary. It was clear, from the initial response to the project, that it introduced readers to an eye-opening perspective on American history, one that pushed them to examine how the contradictions of our founding led to persistent inequalities in contemporary society. In its initial form — a special issue of the magazine, a special broadsheet section and a multi-episode podcast series — it reached millions of people. We knew that putting a version of it on television would help it reach millions more.

Today the result of that effort finally arrives. “The 1619 Project” docuseries is a six-episode program that will air on Hulu over the next three weeks. The first two episodes premiere tonight, Thursday, Jan. 26; the next two arrive a week from today, on Feb. 2, and the series wraps up the week after that, on Feb. 9, with the final two. The show is hosted, of course, by the project’s creator and main voice, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and it features some of the journalists and historians who contributed to the original 1619 Project. But it is also something new, a collaboration among Nikole, the executive producer Oprah Winfrey and a talented team of producers and writers led by the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams. Together with the New York Times film and television producers Caitlin Roper, who was an editor on the original project, and Kathleen Lingo, they reimagined The 1619 Project for a new format, creating new story lines, adding new reporting and bringing in a host of new voices, from the civil rights activist MacArthur Cotton to the pop-music pioneer Nile Rodgers.

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