Nikole Hannah-Jones’ tenure bid resubmitted to UNC Board of Trustees

The incredibly-illustrious journalist's appointment as a tenured professor at UNC is again another review, insiders say.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones not getting offered a tenured appointment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a decision that has ignited a sensational backlash in support of the lead author of The 1619 Project for weeks. Instead of a lifelong appointment as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina, Hannah-Jones, an acclaimed UNC graduate, was offered a fixed five-year appointment. 

According to The Huffington Post, Charles Duckett, chair of the UNC board of trustees’ university affairs committee, confirmed to the Associated Press Wednesday that the board received the resubmitted offer from its committee on appointments, promotions and tenure the day prior.

“America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One,” The 1619 Project’s introductory essay by The New York Times‘ Nikole Hannah-Jones (above), won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Hannah-Jones, the creator of The 1619 Project from The New York Times, has become the name and face of critical race theory, a hot button Republican issue in the last six months. Four states have passed laws banning its schools and universities from talking about “divisive concepts,” efforts appearing to follow former President Donald Trump‘s threat to stop funding schools in the nation that taught The 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay in it, “America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One,” won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. The Pulitzer Center’s direct education work in about 4,500 American classrooms since the effort’s publishing in August 2019, which was adopted in five school systems, included lesson plans, reading guides and expanded student activities.

As previously reported, educator and author Eve L. Ewing presented an Instagram Live video, in which she described UNC’s initial decision as “outside the bounds of any type of normal university governance or decorum in a way that is shocking and is so clearly and indisputably ideological because the person who is being discussed is a person who is decorated in every way that a person can be decorated in the field of journalism.”

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“There is no way to reconcile what has happened that is not this person did a project that we decided is contrary to the facts that we feel comfortable with acknowledging about this country and its racism, and therefore we are not putting it forward,” said Ewing.

A symbolic number of students and alumni of the University of North Carolina — 1,619 — recently submitted a letter as a full-page ad in the Charlotte News-Observer in support of Hannah-Jones, writing: “Dismissing a list of merits that includes winning a Pulitzer Prize, Peabody Award and MacArthur Genius Grant is an attempt to penalize Nikole Hannah-Jones for her groundbreaking and unvarnished reporting of American history. We demand that the Board of Trustees immediately revisit this matter, grant tenure as recommended by the appropriate faculty, Dean and Provost, and restore the integrity of our University.”

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The incredibly-illustrious journalist’s appointment as a tenured professor at UNC is again another review. “On behalf of our school and our students I hope the Board of Trustees will vote on @nhannahjones tenure package,” Susan King, the dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, tweeted this week, “I think they will be impressed as are we. I will be out for two days on medical leave.”

UNC Student Body President Lamar Richards penned a letter earlier this week in support of Hannah-Jones’ writing, in part: “I have only just joined the Board, yet I take ownership and responsibility for every decision made here on out. And, most importantly, I take ownership for when I choose to remain silent and allow policy, procedure, and justice to be subsided.”

“I won’t say I’m an expert on student affairs and student perspective,” he added, “but what I will say is that I’m an expert at knowing when a [University] decision lacks student perspective.”

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