‘1619 Project’ Author Nikole Hannah-Jones Refuses to Start UNC Teaching Gig Unless Granted Tenure

Nikole Hannah-Jones

New York Times writer and author of the divisive “1619 Project” Nikole Hannah-Jones has refused to start her job at the University of North Carolina (UNC)’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media unless she is immediately granted tenure.

Hannah-Jones says she will not start her position as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism on July 1 without tenure, according to a letter obtained by think tank NC Policy Watch that her legal team sent to the university.

“The letter makes clear that Hannah-Jones has not withdrawn her application for tenure and does not intend to do so,” says NC Policy Watch.

Hannah-Jones was initially offered a tenured position at the university, but lost it following backlash over her “unfactual and biased” work.

The “1619 Project,” which Hannah-Jones authored, claims the United States was founded on the institution of slavery, as well as the “legalized discrimination against black Americans,” and has been heavily scrutinized as a result.

In their letter, Hannah-Jones’ attorneys go on to allege that “the inferior terms of employment” offered to the Times writer are derived from “viewpoint discrimination,” and “race and sex discrimination,” in violation of state and federal law.

Hannah-Jones’ legal team also allege that the university did not vote on her tenure last November as expected, and that the school also refrained from voting during a subsequent January meeting, and later told her that she could join the faculty only by entering into a fixed-term contract without tenure.

“To date, she has not received an explanation from UNC as to why tenure has been withheld from her,” the attorneys claim.

The legal team, however, goes on to allege in their letter that “political interference and influence from a powerful donor contributed to the Board of Trustees’ failure to consider her tenure application.”

“In light of this information, Ms. Hannah-Jones cannot trust that the University would consider her tenure application in good faith during the period of the fixed-term contract,” the letter continues. “Such good faith consideration for tenure was understood to be an essential element of the fixed-term contract when Ms. Hannah-Jones agreed to enter into it.”

“In light of the information which has come to her attention since that time, she cannot begin employment with the University without the protection and security of tenure,” the attorneys wrote.

“Under these circumstances, any appointment of Ms. Hannah-Jones without tenure is unacceptable,” the letter concluded.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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