, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the creator of the "1619 Project
," has declined a tenured position at the University of North Carolina
in favor of a position at Howard University
Hannah-Jones, who will become a tenured member of the faculty at the historically Black university's Cathy Hughes School of Communications, made the announcement during an interview
with Gayle King on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday. The UNC alumna will serve as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism
and will begin her
faculty role this summer.
Hannah-Jones will also direct the university's newly established Center for Journalism and Democracy
, which will train the next generation of Black journalists
in investigative and foundational journalism skills, as well as collaborate with other journalism programs at HBCUs across the country, which is critical in an era when historical facts
about race are actively suppressed.
“We are at a critical juncture in our democracy, and yet our press does not reflect the nation it serves, and all too often struggles to grasp the danger
for our country as we see growing attacks on free speech
and the fundamental right to vote,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Atlantic
correspondent, will also join the faculty of the HBCU, which he attended in the 1990s, as the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English in the university's College
of Arts and Sciences.
More than $20 million in financial contributions from the Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and an anonymous donor have helped to fund the roles.
“As our news
and information rapidly change, the media
must do more to diversify the ranks of newsroom decision-makers who determine what stories are told,” said Darren Walker, president
of the Ford Foundation, in a statement. “We believe the establishment of this center at Howard University will play a critical role in helping to advance this important public interest goal.”
Members of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media faculty said in a statement that Hannah Jones' decision to decline the school's offer was "disappointed, but not surprising."
While we are disappointed, we are not surprised, and we support Ms. Hannah-Jones' decision. Her own alma mater's treatment of one of our country's most admired journalists was humiliating, inappropriate, and unjust.
To be completely honest, it was racist
We regret that the top echelons of leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill failed to follow established processes, did not conduct themselves professionally and transparently, and created a crisis that shamed our institution, all because of Ms Hannah-Jones' honest accounting of America
's racial history
Both Coates and Hannah-Jones have received the MacArthur "genius" grant, a prestigious five-year fellowship awarded to those "who demonstrate exceptional creativity in their work
," according to the MacArthur Foundation website.
“Having two MacArthur fellows hired at the same time speaks to where we’re going and what we want to expose our students and faculty members to,” Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick told Stardia. “At this point in time, especially, where we have to be providing solutions to our nation’s problems in the form of core values, it’s giving [our students] the best and maximum exposure.”
Last week, the UNC board of trustees voted 9-4 in favor of granting tenure to Hannah-Jones. UNC had previously offered the journalist — who was named the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the university — a five-year fixed-term contract, defying the faculty's recommendation and the university's recent history of granting tenure to other Knight Chairs.
“I had no intention of bringing turmoil or a political firestorm to the university that I love, but I feel obligated to fight back against a wave of anti-democratic suppression that seeks to prohibit the free exchange of ideas, silence Black voices
, and chill free speech,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement in June.