NABJ ‘Disappointed’ UNC Denied ‘1619 Project’ Creator Nikole Hannah-Jones Tenure


The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) expressed its discontent Thursday, after “The 1619 Project” founder Nikole Hannah-Jones was denied a tenured position at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill amid conservative pushback.

The journalism organization issued a statement saying it was “disappointed” by the school’s decision.

“NABJ has reached out to the university to determine their reason for failing to grant tenure to Nikole,” said NABJ President Dorothy Tucker. “If the speculations are true, then we denounce any decision to deny a distinguished journalist tenure because she simply did her job by reporting facts about slavery in America.”

Last month, UNC announced that Hannah-Jones had been offered a position at her alma mater as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university.

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According to a Wednesday report by NC Policy Watch, the school’s board of trustees decided not to grant her tenure.

In a Medium post Wednesday, UNC faculty members said they were “stunned” by the school’s decision, when others who held Knight chairs at the journalism school were granted tenure. The letter called the decision by the board of trustees a “concerning departure from UNC’s traditional process.”

Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on “The 1619 Project” for The New York Times Magazine.

The journalism project launched in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies. It examines the nation’s legacy of slavery and how the practice influenced nearly all aspects of society, including the principles of American democracy.

The project has been criticized by conservatives as “biased,” including former President Donald Trump. Last year, Trump threatened to pull funding from California schools that taught “The 1619 Project.”

As anger grows over Hannah-Jones being denied tenure, she tweeted her appreciation for the support she’s been receiving.

“I have been overwhelmed by all the support you all have shown me. It has truly fortified my spirit and my resolve. You all know that I will be OK. But this fight is bigger than me, and I will try my best not to let you down,” she wrote:

In addition to her Pulitzer Prize, Hannah-Jones also received UNC’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 2019 and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly known as the “Genius Grant,” in 2017. She was also named NABJ’s Journalist of the Year in 2015.