The Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted on Wednesday to approve a tenured professorship for Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead writer of the New York Times’ 1619 Project.
The tenure application was approved in a 9-4 vote, reversing a May decision in which the board rejected Hannah-Jones for tenure, instead offering her a five-year professorship as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.
Weeks of backlash on social media from Hannah-Jones’ supporters followed after the initial decision by the university, leading to today’s closed-door session, which was met with protests by students at the university.
About 2 hours ago now, with @TaliajahV @jc_1303 @unc_bsm in support of @nhannahjones We were standing peacefully, when 4 officers forcefully removed us. Pushing, shoving and slapping. We protect us. pic.twitter.com/uUGq9IdtDc
— annabelle (she/her) (@annabellef17) June 30, 2021
“Today we took another important step in creating an even better university,” board member Gene Davis said after the vote. “We welcome Nikole Hannah-Jones back to Chapel Hill.”
The 1619 Project was an effort lead by Hannah-Jones, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, to reframe the history of the United States around slavery, declaring 1619 to be the country’s true founding instead of 1776.
It was heavily criticized by top historians for being full of factual errors, leading Hannah-Jones to make a “clarification” in one of her essays in which she declared slavery was the primary motivation of the colonists to fight the Revolutionary War.
She has also referred to the white race as “barbaric devils” and called efforts to ban critical race theory (CRT) and the 1619 Project “dangerous” (RELATED: NYT 1619 Project Lead Reporter Pushes Conspiracy Theory, Appears To Delete And Reactivate Her Twitter Account)
“This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers, and students,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement. “We must ensure that our work is protected and able to proceed free from the risk of repercussions, and we are not there yet.”
“These last weeks have been very challenging and difficult and I need to take some time to process all that has occurred and determine what is the best way forward,” she added.