Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist for The New York Times who is responsible for the 1619 Project, is joining the faculty of her alma mater at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to teach journalism.
Hannah-Jones, who received a master’s degree from the school in 2003, will assume its Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism while remaining employed at The New York Times, according to an announcement from UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
“This is a full-circle moment for me as I return to the place that launched my career to help launch the careers of other aspiring journalists,” Hannah-Jones tweeted on Monday. “I’m so excited to continue mentoring students from the classroom and for all I will learn from them.”
This is a full-circle moment for me as I return to the place that launched my career to help launch the careers of other aspiring journalists. I'm so excited to continue mentoring students from the classroom and for all I will learn from them. Oh, and I'll still be at @nytimes. https://t.co/htCpodmTlE
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) April 26, 2021
Hannah-Jones, who has not published a piece for The New York Times since June of last year, won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary for her essay in “The New York Times Magazine,” which was titled, “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.”
The article argues that the American Revolution was “motivated by the urge to protect slavery” and that plantation slavery was the model for modern American capitalism.
The Pulitzer Prize Board described it as “a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”
“This is the story of a leader returning to a place that transformed her life and career trajectory,” said Susan King, dean of UNC Hussman. “Giving back is part of Nikole’s DNA, and now one of the most respected investigative journalists in America will be working with our students on projects that will move their careers forward and ignite critically important conversations.”
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said, “Nikole Hannah-Jones is one of the finest journalists of her generation, the rare mix of major investigative reporter and big-voiced writer. But she is much more than that. She is a born teacher and mentor. She demands that the industry hold itself to the highest standard. I cannot imagine anyone better to bridge the worlds of journalism, history and education.”
In October 2020, a group of scholars demanded that Hannah-Jones be stripped of her Pulitzer Prize for her essay, which they described as “profoundly flawed.”
“We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in ‘The 1619 Project,’” the statement begins, which was signed by 21 professors, academics, and historians. “That essay was entitled, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.’ But it turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence.”
The New York Times eventually had to retract portions of the 1619 Project’s claims after scholars eviscerated its claims.
Among the historians who excoriated the 1619 Project was Allen C. Guelzo, who serves as a senior research scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative in Politics and Statesmanship.
Guelzo dismantled what he described as the “historical sloppiness” of the 1619 Project during an interview last year with The Daily Wire.
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