Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning journalist and a creator of the 1619 Project, is considering taking legal action against the University of North Carolina after they refused to offer her tenure following pressure from the college’s right supporters.
Hannah-Jones’ alma matter, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, announced last month that she would teach in the Knight Chair position that comes with the expectation of tenure.
“This is the story of a leader returning to a place that transformed her life and career trajectory,” said Susan King, dean of UNC Hussman said in a statement. “Giving back is part of Nikole’s DNA, and now one of the most respected investigative journalists in America will be working with our students on projects that will move their careers forward and ignite critically important conversations.”
The “1619 Project” was published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the United States in August 2019. It is a study of the legacy of slavery in America and how it shaped nearly all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, and including the principles of democracy itself.
However, critics of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” complained, she was granted a different role with the option for a tenure review in five years.
On Thursday, Hannah-Jones released the following statement in response to the board’s “failure to consider and approve my application for tenure — despite the recommendation of the faculty, dean, provost and chancellor.”
“I had no desire to bring turmoil or a political firestorm to the university that I love,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement issued by the Legal Defense Fund, “but I am obligated to fight back against a wave of anti-democratic suppression that seeks to prohibit the free exchange of ideas, silence Black voices and chill free speech.”
Hannah-Jones scheduled to start as a professor at UNC’s journalism school in July.