Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has rejected an offer of tenure from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will instead take a faculty post at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize winner who created the 1619 Project, was initially denied tenure as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism by the UNC board of trustees last May, only for the board to reverse that decision in a vote taken last week, just a few days before she was set to begin in the position without tenure. Hannah-Jones would have been the first Black person to hold this position, and the first person to be appointed to the post without tenure. Instead, she will become the first Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard.
"I've decided to decline the offer of tenure. I will not be teaching on the faculty of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It was a very difficult decision. Not a decision I wanted to make," Hannah-Jones told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King on Tuesday.
"Look what it took to get tenure," she added. "I went through the tenure process and I received the unanimous approval from the faculty to be granted tenure. And so to be denied it and to only have the vote occur on the last possible day at the last possible moment, after threat of legal action, after weeks of protest, after it became a national scandal, it's just not something that I want anymore."
Hannah-Jones went on to say: "This was a position that since the 1980's came with tenure. The Knight Chairs are designed for professional journalists who when working in the field to come into academia and every other chair before me who also happened to be white received that position with tenure… I went through the tenure process and I received the unanimous approval of the faculty to be granted tenure. To be denied it and to only have that vote occur on the last possible day, at the last possible moment, after threat of legal action, after weeks of protest, after it became a national scandal, it's just not something that I want anymore."
In a statement released on Tuesday, Hannah-Jones said, “I have never asked for special treatment. I did not seek it here. All I asked was to be judged by my credentials and treated fairly and equally.”
She added that at Howard, she “will be creating a new initiative aimed at training aspiring journalists to cover the crisis of our democracy and bolstering journalism programs at historically Black colleges and universities across the country. I have already helped secure $15 million for this effort, called the Center for Journalism and Democracy, with the generous grants from the Ford, Knight, and MacArthur foundations, and have set a goal of raising $25 million.”
Theodore Bunker ✉
Theodore Bunker, a Newsmax writer, has more than a decade covering news, media, and politics.
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