‘1619 Project’ Author Nikole Hannah-Jones Rejects UNC Tenure Offer

1619 Project Author Nikole Hannah-Jones
Monica Schipper /Getty

New York Times writer and “1619 Project” author Nikole Hannah-Jones has rejected the tenured position of the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina (UNC)’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and will instead be accepting a role at historically black college Howard University.

“I’ve decided to decline the offer of tenure. I will not be teaching on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” Hannah-Jones told host Gayle King Tuesday on CBS This Morning.

“Instead, I’m going to be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University,” Hannah-Jones disclosed.

Hannah-Jones turned down the offer after UNC Chapel Hill trustees voted 9-4 in favor of granting her tenure — a decision that followed months of controversy over Hannah-Jones’ “divisive” and heavily scrutinized work claiming that the United States was founded on the institution of slavery, as well as the “legalized discrimination against black Americans.”

The author of the “1619 Project” — who had refused to start her job at UNC unless she was immediately granted tenure — went on to claim that “every other Chair before me, who also happened to be white, received that position with tenure.”

“It was embarrassing to be the first person to be denied tenure,” the UNC alumna told King. “I didn’t want this to become a public scandal. I didn’t want to drag my university through the pages of newspapers because I was the first, and the only, black person in that position to be denied tenure.”

“This did not become public because of anything that I did,” she insisted.

When asked why she believes UNC did not initially grant her tenure, Hannah-Jones said, “It’s pretty clear that my tenure was not taken up because of political opposition, because of discriminatory views against my viewpoints, and I believe my race, and my gender.”

Hannah-Jones went on to say that she accepted a position at a historically black college, in part, because she feels she already “fought the battle that I wanted to fight” and “won” due to the fact that UNC ultimately voted on her tenure.

“It’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina,” Hannah-Jones said.

“I’ve spent me entire life proving that I belong in elite, white spaces that were not built for black people,” she added. “I got a lot of clarity through what happened with the University of North Carolina. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore.”

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


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