Boris Kodjoe and Nikole Hannah-Jones hope to create future of change

Creator of “The 1619 Project” Nikole Hannah-Jones and “Station 19” star Boris Kodjoe put a spotlight on the consequences that still resonate 400 years after America’s shameful legacy of slavery began.
8:49 | 12/19/19

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Transcript for Boris Kodjoe and Nikole Hannah-Jones hope to create future of change
ships made their journey from Africa to the American colcolonies, our next guests are putting a spotlight on the consequences that still resonate to this very day, and we're celebrating the unsung contributions of black Americans and talking about ways to correct a really shameful history. Please welcome the creator to of "The New York Times" magazine's "1619 project," Nikole hannah-jones and -- From our ABC series "Station 19," Boris kodjoe. So Boris -- Yes. Welcome to "The view." Thank you. And last December, you and a group of business folks and celebrities like Idris Elba and Anthony Anderson took a trip to Ghana as part of your full circle festival. Tell us what that means and why, and what this is all heading towards. What are you pointing towards? Well, first of all, I think the rest of the world especially here in the United States doesn't get a positive visual representation of Africa, right? All we hear about and all we associate Africa with is famine, war, diseased children and mass exodus to Europe. Due to decades of one-dimensional media coverage, and we wanted to change that narrative, right? We wanted to show the diversity in Africa, the beautiful people, the food, the music, the night life, the historic sights. -- Sites. We brought our friends to experience Ghana, to go to the slave castles, to have parties on the beach, to go out at night, to mingle and collaborate with people, to have that exchange that's so necessary, and it was a profoundly transformative experience for every single person that went. We realized that we need to make this available to everybody. Wow. There's 400 million people of African descent living outside of the continent, and every single person needs to go to Africa to experience that. Wow. You mentioned that you saw the slave castle and the slave cells in Ghana where Africans were sold, and of course, sent to the slave ships. Yep. What was that like for you, that experience? Many times now, my father is from Ghana so I had been as a boy, and I took my children and I took my wife, Nicole. Every time you go, it's a visceral and emotional experience because you feel the spirit of those who were in these dungeons and who went to all these atrociies that we know about, and it's -- it's really amazing when you get a chance to reconnect with your roots because you realize that you're not dedend ents of slaves. You're descend ents of enslaved Africans. We come from survivors. So understanding that helps you reclaim your cultural identity, which is so important, especially African-Americans. Once you understand where you came from, you have a better idea of where you are going. Yeah. So it's really transformational. I want to thank both of you because I don't think we can really move forward until we fully understand how this country began. Absolutely. And you have done such a good job with your project recently, 1619. If you haven't read it, please do. I did last night for hours. It is the entire "New York Times" magazine. You understand that America really did begin in 1619. Mm-hmm. There's essays, artwork. I will never understand, but it taught me so much. I had tears going to sleep, and I woke up this morning telling my husband about it and I said, everyone needs to learn. We need to learn more. Ghana is beautiful from the video I watched. Why did you want to do that, and what was your reaction when "The New York Times" said, not just a page, but I want the entire magazine to be this? I came across that date, 1619 in high school, and it was a book before the mayflower, and every American has heard about the mayflower which lands in 1620, but no one hears about what landed in 1619. One story was about freedom, which we love, and the other story was about slavery, which we don't. Slafry with just as foundational to America as any ship or anything that happened after that, and it affected our economic, cultural and legal systems, burr it's treated as marginal because it doesn't glorify the yooids united States, so we're uncomfortable with it. The anniversary was approaching and it was going to pass in most households with no notice, no acknowledgment. It just seemed like a tremendous opportunity to not just talk about the past, but to show the ways that all across American life today, we are still living with that legacy, and when I suggested it to "The times," honestly I made the pitch that this anniversary is coming. None of you have heard of it either, and that we were going to show that -- all these areas that you don't think you know, traffic in Atlanta, capitalism, democracy itself, why we don't have universal health care. We were going to show that you can trace them back to slavery. My editors at the time immediately said, let's do it, and the project actually kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger because we realized 400 years to assess something to foundational, it had to be something really big. I love what she said. She said, we didn't have a democracy until black America made it a democracy. Yes. That's when it was real. That's something I talk about all the time. I loved this project so much. I was trying to get that magazine, more and more copies, but it was sold out everywhere. You couldn't even get it. One of the points you made with this project as you alluded to, is we are a country founded on both an ideal and a lie, and 1619 is just as important to the story of America as the year 1776. Absolutely. Why? That's the year of the compromise. It was all laid out, and if they had stuck to it, but politics came in, and when you are marginalized, you have to give up. We'll get to this. They can't -- slavery wasn't the thing you wanted to push to the side. It just really wasn't, and to your point, it does affect everything. Everything. Why people feel the way they feel. I mean, it's an extraordinary -- it's an extraordinary piece, but extraordinary piece for Americans to -- Yes. Connect to today, so they understand, you know, this isn't -- this isn't a black problem. This isn't a white problem. This is an American problem. American. Absolutely. Exactly. One of the questions that I ask every single presidential candidate that has come here, and I have gotten flak for it, but I talk about reparations. There was a congressional hearing on reparations. Will it happen? Do you want to take that? Well, I think that any dialogue about reparations has to start with the recognizing of the crime, recognizing of the facts, recognizing that it actually happened, right? The fact that enslaved Africans were brutalized, were put to work in order to create the huge fortune for those who benefitted from the slave trade, which was a systematic mechanism, right? That was the foundation of the disproportionate generational wealth that we have today. Right. So when people say, well, you know, hundreds of years ago, I wasn't alive. It's very important to make the distinction and say, you weren't alive, but yes. You benefit from the foundation that was laid hundreds of years ago. And other people don't. Other people suffer from the effects of slavery. You have to come back and chronicle this with us. I would love to. Our thanks to Nikole hannah-jones, and Boris kodjoe. Sgss is returns January 23rd

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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