Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones said Tuesday she had turned down a job offer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and, after weeks of controversy, would join the faculty at Howard University, a historically black institution.
Hannah-Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for her commentary on “The 1619 Project” of the New York Times, announced this in an interview with host Gayle King on “CBS This Morning”.
“I’m not going to teach at the University of North Carolina faculty at Chapel Hill. It’s a very difficult decision that I didn’t want to make,” said Hannah-Jones.
Hannah-Jones will be a permanent faculty member at the Cathy Hughes School of Communications as Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. She will also start a new center for journalism and democracy, according to Howard.
The announcement comes less than a week after the UNC Board of Trustees voted 9: 4 to offer Hannah-Jones a position as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university’s Hussman School of Journalism.
UNC announced in April that Hannah-Jones would attend the university, where she received her master’s degree in 2003. At the time, Hannah-Jones said the move was “a moment for me to return to where my career was to start the careers of other aspiring journalists.”
The following month, however, the UNC board said that Hannah-Jones’s application for a term was on hold, citing her limited academic experience.
Richard Stevens, the chairman of the board of trustees, told The Associated Press at the time that “it’s not uncommon for a board member … traditional academic background.”
The board’s decision sparked a firestorm, with critics claiming the school bowed to conservative pressure. The 1619 project was criticized from the right for its portrayal of the influence of slavery on American history.
Hannah-Jones suggested to King that race may have played a role in her denial of tenure.
“This was a tenure since the 1980s,” said Hannah-Jones. “Every other chair in front of me that happened to be white has been given this position permanently.”
Susan King, the dean of the UNC School of Journalism, said in a statement that she was “disappointed” that Hannah-Jones was not going to college, but admitted that it was “a long six months for her and our UNC students” were.
“We only wish her deep success and the hope that the UNC can learn from this longstanding drama how we as a community of scholars need to change in order to grow as a campus that lives by its declared values, becoming a diverse and welcoming place be for everyone, ”she said.
Hannah-Jones said the struggle for employment pissed her off at work at the UNC, which she once loved. The fact that the university ultimately voted for her term in office was not enough, she said.
“To be denied and to vote on the last possible day at the last possible moment, after threats of legal proceedings, after weeks of protest after it became a national scandal – I just don’t want that anymore,” she said.
In a detailed statement from Hannah-Jones’ attorneys, she said that “the university reluctantly did the bare minimum”.
In that statement, Hannah-Jones called on the school to take a number of steps including apologizing to students who protested for her employment, providing more information about why she was denied employment, and the role of the Board of Trustees to change in the Faculty Administration.
Hannah-Jones will take up this position in the summer, according to Howard. The university said it will create the Center for Journalism and Democracy. The center, it goes on to say, “will focus on training and assisting aspiring journalists to acquire the investigative skills and historical and analytical expertise necessary to face the crisis of our democracy.”
“In the legendary tradition of the black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help to produce journalists who are able to deal with the challenges of our democracy with the clarity, skepticism, rigor and historical skill that are precisely and urgently needed today Journalism is lacking all too often, ”Hannah-Jones said in a statement from Howard.
Howard also announced Tuesday that writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, an influential black thinker who gained attention for promoting reparations for the descendants of slaves, would join his faculty.
Wayne AI Frederick, Howard’s president, said in a statement Tuesday announcing Hannah-Jones’ new role that it is vital to our country’s racial relations at a “time so critical that we take on the role of journalism.” in steering our national conversation and understand “Social Progress.”
“Our newsrooms not only have to reflect the communities they report in, but we have to bring talent to the profession,” said Frederick.
“It is a pleasure to have two of today’s most respected and influential journalists at Howard,” said Frederick.
Hannah-Jones said in a statement released Tuesday that joining Howard’s faculty “fulfills a dream I have had for a long time.”
“One of my few regrets is that I didn’t visit Howard as a student,” said Hannah-Jones.
Three foundations and an anonymous donor contributed nearly $ 20 million to support Hannah-Jones’ position and the new center for journalism and democracy, Howard said. These foundations are the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
The announcement comes Tuesday after Howard University’s Phylicia Rashad, dean of the school’s arts college, apologized for a comment she made on Twitter following Bill Cosby’s release from prison after his sex crime conviction was overturned. Rashad starred with the disgraced comedian on “The Cosby Show” and celebrated his release. Howard criticized the tweet, saying it “lacked sensitivity to sexual assault survivors”.
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