It’s better to stand with her than to stand against her because award-winning New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones is always going to come out on top.
Just ask UNC-Chapel Hill and now David Beare, the head of the Middlesex School in Concord, Ma., who is currently taking a leave of absence after he withdrew a speaking invitation to the 1619 writer and pissed off all her supporters and some of the prep school’s students and faculty.
“I care deeply about Middlesex and feel that this leave serves the best interest of the students and the School,” Beare wrote in an email Thursday, according to the Boston Globe. “Thank you to everyone in the School community who has reached out to me and my family during this challenging time.”
Here’s more from the Globe:
Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who conceived of The 1619 Project, which reexamines the legacy of slavery in the United States. The collection of writings has renewed the divisive debate on teaching race and racism in the public schools and has come under criticism, chiefly from the political right.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we are in a moment where schools are facing intense pressure not to invite speakers that are considered to be focusing too much on race and racism and the Black experience in American history,” Hannah-Jones told the Globe in an interview after the school’s decision.
The decision to disinvite Hannah-Jones came just days after Beare and trustees posted a “letter to the community” strongly endorsing intellectual diversity and support for diversifying the student body and staff.
Jones tweeted on Oct. 18 that the invitation to speak at the school, scheduled for Black History Month next year, was withdrawn because of the “noise” associated with her presence, the Globe reports.
The day after Hannah-Jones’ tweet, Beare told the Globe that the offer was rescinded because school officials ”were concerned that individuals from outside our community might inadvertently distract from the insights and perspective that she intended to share.”
Last Friday, students staged a walkout in protest of the decision and on Oct. 20 almost 100 faculty members signed a letter to the board of trustees, disapproving the decision and requesting that an apology be issued by Beare.
According to News & Observer, Beare, in a statement with the president of the trustees, Stephen Lari, issued an apology, saying, “We deeply regret it and have had many gut-wrenching conversations within our community regarding the decision, how it was made, and the disrespect we showed Professor Hannah-Jones.”
The school is now launching an internal investigation, according to the Globe, while the board of trustees is saying they were not consulted before Hannah-Jones was disinvited. The apology called the decision to disinvite Hannah-Jones a “shameful mistake.”