Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Woodson Center, joins Mark Levin on FNC's "Life, Liberty & Levin," to discuss the 1776 Initiative which was created to refute the claims made by the New York Times' 1619 Project documenting America's history of slavery.
MARK LEVIN: Welcome back. Bob Woodson, I want to read you something from five top historians. Two of whom are Pulitzer Prize winners, James MacPherson, Gordon Wood, top schools in the country -- five of them, they felt compelled to write a letter to "The New York Times."
And among other things, they wrote this on the 1619 Project. "On the American Revolution, pivotal to any account of our history, the project asserts that the founders declared the colonies independence of Britain in order to ensure slavery would continue."
"This is not true," they say, "If supportable, the allegation will be astounding -- yet, every statement offered by the project to validate it is false."
"Some of the other material in the project is distorted, including the claim that 'for the most part," black Americans have fought their freedom struggles alone."
They go on, "The 1619 Project has not been presented as the views of individual writers -- views that in some cases, as on the suppose a direct connections between slavery and the modern court practices have so far failed to establish any empirical veracity or reliability and have been seriously challenged by other historians."
"Instead, the project is offered as an authoritative account that bears the imprimatur and credibility of 'The New York Times.'"
"Those connected with a project to assure the public that its materials were shaped by a panel of historians, and have been scrupulously fact- checked. Yet, the process remains opaque."
"The names of only some of the historians involved have been released, they extent of their involvement as consultants, and fact checkers remains vague. The selective transparency deepens our concern."
You started this 1776 Project to counter this distortion of the history that these historians talk about.
BOB WOODSON: Absolutely. You know, Mark, there are two ways to prevent people from competing. One, to deny them by law the way we did under segregation. But the more insidious way is to convince them that they don't have to compete.
That because of their history of oppression, that your oppressor is obligated to be responsible for your future. That is a recipe for absolute disaster for people.
It says, if you're robbing and killing one another, it's not your fault. If you're having babies out of wedlock, and not taking care of them, it's not your fault.
If you're eating too much, and you're overweight, it's not your fault. So it's structural and distant. That's why in the '60s, the doors were locked from the outside. And so we fought to open those doors.
But 1619 says the blacks, those doors are locked from -- still are locked from the outside and in 1776, we say no. As C.S. Lewis said, this is a door that's locked from the inside. You have the right of self-determination and the 1619 said that these conditions of history are dictates are present.
And we, at 1776, offer evidence to the contrary. They say that capitalism is hostile to the interests of blacks. Well, there are 20 blacks who were born slaves who died millionaires.
How is that possible if slavery were responsible for the decline of people? For example, one woman Biddy Mason was born 1818 in Mississippi and she couldn't read or write. And her master moved -- he was a Mormon and moved to Salt Lake City.
She walked behind a wagon for a thousand miles tending to the sheep. She had three babies by him, and when she got to Salt Lake City, he moved to California and that was a free state, a judge freed her. And as a result, she was a midwife, and she earned $1.50 a day.
She saved her money for 10 years and purchased property in what is now Downtown LA, and got into real estate. And eventually, when she died, she was worth about $670,000.00 and she is the founder of the AME Church that is still operating. And her great -- her grandson became one of the wealthiest blacks.
So there are countless stories like this, of blacks in that period who achieved against the odds, and those traditions continue.
For instance, 1619 says that the decimation of the family can be traced to racism. Well between 1930, let's look at the evidence -- between 1930 and 1940, during the Depression, when there was a 25 percent unemployment rate, the unemployment rate in the black community was 40 percent.
We had the highest marriage rate of any other group. Elderly people could walk safely without being fearful of being mugged by their grandkids.
If racism were responsible, then how could we accomplish that?
So our essays by our scholars and our activists, we provide evidence of this. It was our Christian faith that helped us to maintain standards.
There was a church, a Mother Bethel Church in Philadelphia, where the members were taxed a shillings a week, and they had their own welfare system, but you couldn't obtain welfare if you were slothful, or if you were lazy or if you were a drunk.
So we had moral standards even during the time of segregation and slavery, and it was a strong content of our character as a people, which enabled us to withstand the horrors of oppression.
But 1619 is cheating black children by telling them that their only lot in life is to be a victim.