Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, announced Tuesday morning during an interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” that she will accept a teaching role at Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. Her position will be tenured.
Previously, Hannah-Jones accepted an untenured position at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Her supporters held protests on UNC’s campus over her denial of tenure, and Hannah-Jones sought legal counsel to dispute the terms of her employment. Her lawyers later said that “any appointment of Ms. Hannah-Jones without tenure is unacceptable.”
UNC’s board of trustees then backtracked and granted Hannah-Jones tenure on June 30 in a 9-4 vote.
In Hannah-Jones’ new role at Howard University, she will be tasked with creating the Center for Journalism and Democracy. The center is receiving several million dollars in grant funding to train students at the historically black university in racially conscious journalism and further Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project. It will also feature Howard University alum and racially conscious journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.
JUST IN: Award-winning journalist @nhannahjones reveals on @CBSThisMorning she has declined the University of North Carolina's offer for tenure and will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at @HowardU. pic.twitter.com/w9j0gVe0cd
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) July 6, 2021
In December 2020, UNC megadonor and journalism school namesake Walter Hussman Jr. expressed concerns about affiliating the university with Hannah-Jones. He said, “I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC journalism school to the 1619 Project.” He went on to challenge her impartiality as a journalist and question the purpose of the 1619 Project.
“Based on her own words, many will conclude she is trying to push an agenda, and they will assume she is manipulating historical facts to support it,” Hussman said. He also said that he did not pressure any voting members about whether or not to grant Hannah-Jones tenure.
Faculty from UNC’s journalism school wrote an open letter accusing university leadership of being motivated by racism in their treatment of Hannah-Jones.
Many academics have spoken out against what they call Hannah-Jones’ historical revisionism, including renowned American Revolution scholar Gordon Wood, who called the project “so wrong in so many ways.”
The 1619 Project has been at the center of American civil discourse since it was published in 2019 and is widely celebrated by America’s cultural elites. Protesters often invoked Hannah-Jones’ work at the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots. Hannah-Jones acknowledges and takes pride in this.
In their efforts to prevent critical race theory from being taught in public schools, Republican lawmakers in Congress, like United States Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and state leaders, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have sought to ban the use of the 1619 Project in classrooms.
In September 2020, then-President Donald Trump referred to critical race theory as “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the 1619 Project is “wrong & deliberately deceptive.”