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Nikole Hannah-Jones Declines UNC Position after Receiving Tenure

Nikole Hannah-Jones (Alice Vergueiro/Abraji via Wikimedia Commons)

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones said that she declined an offer for a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in an interview on CBS on Tuesday morning.

The creator of the New York Times’ 1619 Project will instead take up a position at Howard University. Hannah-Jones was initially offered the position of Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at UNC.

“I decided to decline the offer of tenure; I will not be teaching on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” Hannah-Jones told CBS’s Gayle King.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted 9–4 in a special session last week to grant Hannah-Jones tenure, after initially offering her a five-year contract without immediate tenure. The board first denied Hannah-Jones tenure in May, reportedly amid concerns from conservatives pertaining to the 1619 Project.

Hannah-Jones then refused to join the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty unless she would be granted tenure. In the CBS interview on Tuesday, Hannah-Jones noted that every former Knight Chair had been granted tenure immediately.

“Look what it took to get tenure,” Hannah-Jones said. “This was a position that since the 1980’s came with tenure. The Knight Chairs are designed for professional journalists, who have been working in the field, to come into academia, and every other chair before me — who also happened to be white — received tenure.”

The 1619 Project was developed to “reframe” American history by placing “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States’ national narrative.” The project has received criticism over an inaccurate claim that a central reason the American colonists revolted against the British monarchy was to preserve the system of slavery.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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