Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, best known for her landmark 1619 Project, has announced that she declined the University of North Carolina’s offer of tenure and will instead accept a position with Howard University.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of the Howard family,” Hannah-Jones said on Tuesday, July 6, while speaking to Gayle King on CBS This Morning. In addition to becoming the school’s first Knight chair in race and journalism, Hannah-Jones will also found the Center for Journalism and Democracy, “which will focus on training students in investigative journalism,” CNN reports.
Hannah-Jones was recently involved in a scandal that erupted when the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees initially denied tenure to The New York Times journalist. After facing backlash from Black faculty and students, as well as widespread accusations of racism, the school’s board on June 30 voted 9-4 to grant Hannah-Jones tenure. It was, however, too little too late for Hannah-Jones. “It’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina,” she told King. “That’s the job of the people in power who created the situation in the first place.”
“We are at a critical juncture in our democracy, and yet our press does not reflect the nation it serves and too often struggles to grasp the danger for our country as we see growing attacks on free speech and the fundamental right to vote,” Hannah-Jones said of her new appointment in a statement released to CNN. “In the storied tradition of the Black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.”
In addition to Hannah-Jones, acclaimed author and Howard alum Ta-Nehisi Coates will also join the university’s faculty as a writer-in-residence in the College of Arts and Sciences. He will additionally hold the Sterling Brown chair in the English department. “That really is the community that made me,” Coates told The Washington Post.
Both appointments, according to The Post, are supported by close to $20 million from an anonymous donor, as well as the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.