Top UNC Journalism Donor Outed as Being Against the University Hiring Nikole Hannah-Jones Over 1619 Project

Ira Glass, left Chana Joffe-Walt, and Nikole Hannah-Jones pose with award during The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 21, 2016 in New York City.
Ira Glass, left Chana Joffe-Walt, and Nikole Hannah-Jones pose with award during The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 21, 2016 in New York City.
Photo: Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

When you donate $25 million to a university to get your name on a building, then you have a right to say what you want done and who gets hired.


If that school is in the South, then chances are the donor is a white man, and his views are most likely Southern AF. I didn’t write the rules; the South did, which is what brings us here today. Turns out Walter Hussman, a University of North Carolina alumnus, donated a football contract worth of money to his former school, whose journalism department bears his name, and then took objection when the journalism department looked to hire Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, “arguing that her prolific ‘1619 Project’ didn’t give enough credit to white people and was not what he considered objective journalism,” HuffPost reports.

White people, why are y’all like this?

Fine, white photographer Carl Van Vechten took many of those famous photographs during the Harlem Renaissance. There, you happy?!

Managing Editor Genetta Adams: Yeah, but he would later go on to publish the book “Nigger Heaven.”

Me: You’re right, fuck him, too.

“I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC journalism school to the 1619 project,” Hussman, who is whiter than a jeep with no top, reportedly wrote in a December email to the school dean, Susan King. “I find myself more in agreement with Pulitzer prize winning historians like James McPherson and Gordon Wood than I do Nikole Hannah-Jones.

“These historians appear to me to be pushing to find the true historical facts. Based on her own words, many will conclude she is trying to push an agenda, and they will assume she is manipulating historical facts to support it. If asked about it, I will have to be honest in saying I agree with the historians.”

For the record Hannah-Jones is Black.

James McPherson and Gordon Wood are white.

Sounds like the white donor is more comfortable getting his history from James Woods and Ricky Schroder.


I know this is going to floor you, but it turns out that Southern white men aren’t comfortable with The 1619 Project, which appeared in the small Communist rag called the New York Times Magazine and examined “how anti-Black racism and the legacy of slavery have played a significant role throughout U.S. history. The project uses essays, video and photography to look at how racism has been part of American culture since the first enslaved Africans were brought ashore in 1619,” HuffPost reports.

From HuffPost:

The donor has gone to great lengths to create a public image of someone concerned with journalistic objectivity and neutrality; however, the emails obtained by The Assembly paint a picture of behind-the-scenes interference and advocacy. Hussman also did not help his image of objectivity when he appeared on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s show in 2019 to talk about objectivity, nodding along as Carlson said, “A clear line between news and opinion … I think we have that here.”

In a September email obtained by The Assembly, Hussman objected to a section of Hannah-Jones’ 1619 essay about the country’s post-World War II civil rights fight, in which she wrote, “For the most part, Black Americans fought back alone.”

“I think this claim denigrates the courageous efforts of many white Americans to address the sin of slavery and the racial injustices that resulted after the Civil War,” Hussman reportedly said in the email, listing white people who fought for racial equality like some Freedom Riders and journalists across the South.

“Long before Nikole Hannah-Jones won her Pulitzer Prize, courageous white southerners risking their lives standing up for the rights of blacks were winning Pulitzer prizes, too,” he continued, according to The Assembly.

Hannah-Jones has not released a formal response to The Assembly’s reporting, but she tweeted the “great, if disappointing” article on Sunday while expressing shock at Hussman’s Pulitzer comment. The journalist also said that while irrelevant to her credentials, “I’ve long credited Black and white race beat reporters with inspiring my own journalism,” pointing to her website that has included specific names “for years.”


King has advocated for Hannah-Jones’ tenure, releasing a statement on Wednesday saying that she is a “once-in-a-lifetime journalist whose investigative methods and reporting define a career and a time.”

It was initially announced in April that Hannah-Jones would join UNC’s journalism school in July as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, a position that is tenured. The tenure board reviewed her application and recommended her for tenure, but after balking from donors, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees denied it.


“More than 250 public figures and prominent advocates signed a letter in support of Hannah-Jones, accusing UNC of falling to pressure from conservatives opposed to her project. In addition to that letter, 40 members of the Hussman School’s faculty and more than 50 from UNC’s other schools released a statement calling the board’s decision “concerning” and “disheartening,’” HuffPost reports.

While Hannah-Jones noted Friday that she didn’t want “to bring turmoil or a political firestorm to the university,” she added that she was tired of this fuckshit. She has to stick up for herself and is reportedly considering legal action.


“As a Black woman who has built a nearly two-decades long career in journalism, I believe Americans who research, study, and publish works that expose uncomfortable truths about the past and present manifestations of racism in our society should be able to follow these pursuits without risk to their civil and constitutional rights,” she wrote in her statement.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.



My understanding is that, although McPherson and Wood had complaints about some details around the 1619 project, they also agree about the importance of racism in understanding America’s past and present. I think almost all professional historians do.