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Nikole Hannah-Jones, AfroAmerica Network Black Woman of Year 2021

Nikole Hannah-Jones on 1619 Project in 2019

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Nikole Hannah-Jones, an African-American renowned journalist and HBCU Howard University professor, is a Pulitzer Prize winner. As a reporter for The New York Times Magazine and the creator of the 1619 Project, she covered racial injustice.


Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with Professor Cornel West, was a major focus of  the media  and civil rights movement activists following a tenure case in 2020  (see Nikole Hannah-Jones' and Cornel West's Tenure Cases and Netflix The Chair's Sandra Oh: Stories of Struggle by People of Color in Corporations and Institution).

In 2019, Nikole Hannah-Jones launched the 1619 Project with the aim to explore the legacy of slavery in the United States, 400 years after the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.

In 2020, Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her "sweeping, provocative 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."

Controversial tenure case of Nikole Hannah-Jones

In 2021, despite her qualifications, her tenure at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism and Media was delayed, allegedly due to her work on  the1619 project.

In fact, not everybody was happy about the 1619 project and the work by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Some people stated that the 1619 Project sought to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative." Hence, powerful individuals among these people allegedly were behind the hardly fought opposition against her tenure at the UNC.

As the consideration of her tenure was delayed, major protests erupted, led by civil rights activists, students, several faculty members, including Black female professors, and other supporters from many sides. The protesters pointed to the fact that denying tenure to Hannah-Jones highlighted the racial injustice in academia, threatened academic freedom, and confirmed how Black women in academia were mistreated. Following the protests, UNC trustees met in closed session and publicly voted for tenure for Hannah-Jones with 9 for to 4 against.

After protests, news coverage, and other civil rights actions, Nikole Hannah-Jones was eventually offered tenure, bust she declined and, instead, accepted a position at Howard University.

Nikoe Hannah-Jones, African American Renowned Journalist, Professor, and Pulitzer Prize Winner Full of Integrity


Her decision showed integrity, bravery and a clear vision and was hailed by people across the board, including Civil Rights and racial justice activists, academics, students, and women rights activists.


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@AfroAmerica Network, 2021