After months of controversy, acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has announced that she will join the faculty at Howard University, one of the country’s most prestigious historically Black universities, instead of joining the faculty at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she went to graduate school.
The decision by Hannah-Jones comes after her tenure was initially denied by the UNC board of trustees in May, when it was unanimously approved by the faculty. The board typically rubber-stamps tenure for professors who have won such approval from their peers, and it reversed the decision after protests from alumni, faculty and students.
Hannah-Jones has been a target of right-wing vitriol since she spearheaded the award-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, which sought to reevaluate the role of slavery in the founding of the United States.
Joe Killian, investigative reporter for NC Policy Watch whom Nikole Hannah-Jones credits with breaking the story about the “discrimination I faced in the UNC tenure debacle,” says the tenure fight is a “microcosm” of the wider ideological divisions in the United States.
He notes that the Chapel Hill board of trustees is filled with political appointees whose interests do not align with those of the student body.
“The board at Chapel Hill is stacked with white men, stacked with people who are conservative, and it doesn’t look anything like the university itself,” Killian says.
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