Nikole Hannah-Jones Recites Dr. King’s Speech to ‘1619 Project’ Critics on MLK Day

Nikole Hannah-Jones Recites Dr. King’s Speech to ‘1619 Project’ Critics on MLK Day

Nikole Hannah-Jones had a little fun honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the late civil rights leader’s annual holiday by reciting portions of his old speeches to an audience of critics who assumed it was her own original words.

On Monday, “The 1619 Project” author took to Twitter to share what happened when she was invited to give a speech about Dr. King but was criticized by a small group who felt her presence dishonored King’s legacy.

“I was invited to give an MLK speech today and a small number of members of the group hosting me wrote and then leaked emails opposing my giving this speech, as it dishonored Dr. King for me to do so,” Hannah-Jones tweeted. “They called me a ‘discredited activist’ “unworthy of such association with King.”

In response, the best-selling author thought it would be funny to edit her speech to include direct quotes from some of Dr. King’s old speeches and allow the unknowing audience to think it was her original speech.

“And, whew, child, it was AMAZING,” she wrote.

Hannah-Jones shared the first few excerpts of her speech while noting that she replaced the word “Negro” with “Black” to not give it away that it was an old speech.

“Here is some of it ‘It was in the year 1619 that the first BLACK slave was brought to the shores of this nation,'” she tweeted. “‘They were brought here from the soils of Africa and unlike the Pilgrim fathers who landed here at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their will…'”

After sharing excerpts from the speech, Hannah-Jones said the entire crowd was left speechless.

“Oh, the uncomfortable silence as I read Dr. King’s words at a commemoration of Dr. King’s life when people had no idea that these were his words,” she tweeted. “When I revealed that everything I said to that point was taken from his speeches between ’56 and 67…Can you say SHOOK!”

She went on to note the drastic change in Dr. King’s approval rating at the time he was assassinated and now.

“Then I read all the names that white Americans called King: charlatan, demagogue, communist, traitor—and brought out the polling showing more than three-quarters of Americans opposed King at his death while 94 percent approve of him now,” Hannah-Jones wrote.

Bringing her message back to “The 1619 Project”, Hannah-Jones credited King with being one of the early teachers of what Critical Race Theory represents today.

“This is why the 1619 Project exists,” she wrote. “This is why the decades of scholarship that undergirds the 1619 Project exists. Because if we do nothing, they will co-opt our history and use it against us.”