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1619 Creator Says Goodbye to UNC, Hello to Howard

After tenure controversy is settled, Nikole Hannah-Jones to head to HBCU in DC instead
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2021 9:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – After much controversy, Nikole Hannah-Jones finally got tenure from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, but her words upon hearing that news didn't sound especially promising: She noted she needed some time to "determine what is the best way forward." This week, that way forward was made clear, and it isn't a path to UNC. Per WTVD, the 1619 Project creator announced Tuesday on CBS This Morning that she'll be declining tenure at the North Carolina college and instead heading to DC's Howard University, where she'll fill the new role of Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at the HBCU. "I am so incredibly honored to be joining one of the most important and storied educational institutions in our country," Hannah-Jones said in a statement, per the Washington Post. UNC-CH's board of trustees had initially offered Hannah-Jones a five-year contract as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, with a tenure review to come later.

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Others in that role came in with tenure, and so Hannah-Jones balked. The board's vote last month to grant her tenure came only after a national commotion. Hannah-Jones tells NC Policy Watch that, "had there been some political courage on behalf of the leadership of the university," her final decision may have been different. Nine UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members issued a statement Tuesday, noting they supported her decision. "The appalling treatment of one of our nation's most-decorated journalists by her own alma mater was humiliating, inappropriate, and unjust," they wrote, per the News & Observer. "We will be frank: It was racist." Another big name joining Howard's faculty: award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who will serve as a writer-in-residence for the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as hold the Sterling Brown Chair for the university's English Department. (Read more Nikole Hannah-Jones stories.)

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