Nikole Hannah-Jones Joins Howard University After UNC Tenure Fight


Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist denied tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, announced she has instead accepted a job at Howard University.

During her first interview since the controversy over her status at UNC, Hannah-Jones told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King she would not be accepting her alma mater’s offer.

“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. It was a very difficult decision — not a decision I wanted to make and instead, I am going to be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University,” Hannah-Jones.

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The UNC Board of Trustees voted 9 to 4 last week to reverse its decision after previously denying “The 1619 Project” founder and New York Times magazine staff writer tenure, reportedly because of conservative pushback over her writings.

“It’s pretty clear that my tenure was not taken up because of political opposition, because of discriminatory views against my viewpoint and I believe my race and my gender,” Hannah-Jones said on CBS.

She added that she went through the full tenure process and was accepted by her peers in academia at UNC, but the board blocked her opportunity for tenure.

She also also talked about the importance of teaching at a HBCU versus a predominantly White institution.

“Black professionals should feel free, and actually perhaps an obligation, to go to our own institutions and bring our talent and resources to our own institutions and help to build them up as well,” she said.

“It’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina,” the UNC alum continued. “That’s the job of the people in power who created this situation in the first place.”

Hannah-Jones said she spoke in person this past weekend with those who advocated on her behalf during the controversy, including UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media Dean Susan King, student protesters and the Carolina Black Caucus about her decision to teach at Howard.

Hannah-Jones will begin her new position this summer according to the press release.

Howard University also announced Tuesday that acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates would be one of the new faculty appointments alongside Hannah-Jones.

The HBCU tweeted: “Howard University is proud to announce Nikole Hannah-Jones & Ta-Nehisi Coates will join the HU faculty to help educate the next generation of black journalists. The appointments are supported by nearly $20 million donated by four donors.”

According to a statement from Howard, Coates will be on the faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences and will serve as the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English. He is also a Howard alum.