UNC-Chapel Hill Bows to Conservative Crazies, Won’t Offer Tenured Position to 1619 Journalist

Illustration for article titled UNC-Chapel Hill Bows to Conservative Crazies, Won’t Offer Tenured Position to 1619 Journalist
Photo: Evan Agostini (AP)

Two things I hate about America: all of the fake conservative Christian bullshit and the inability to own up to its past mistakes.


America, you did that shit. Own it.

But America and conservatives have a tough time dealing with the truth and as such Nikole Hannah-Jones, famed journalist of The 1619 Project, Pulitzer Prize winner and a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” recipient, will no longer be given a tenured position at her alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill because conservatives don’t love her.

See, UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media pursued Hannah-Jones for its Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, a tenured position, but after conservatives (read white people) took issue with the offer, UNC remembered that it was in the South and pulled its Confederate flag undies back up.

Instead, they have agreed to give her a five-year fixed position as the Professor of the Practice. (also known as the Allen Iverson spot. I kid.) Because this is a fixed position and not a tenured position it doesn’t need Board approval.

Hannah-Jones is slated to start at the school July 1.

“It’s disappointing, it’s not what we wanted and I am afraid it will have a chilling effect,” Susan King, dean of UNC Hussman, told NC Policy Watch.


From NC Policy Watch:

The 1619 Project is a long-form journalism undertaking that, as the Pulitzer Center put it, “challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation’s foundational date.” Hannah-Jones, who is Black, conceived of the project and was among multiple staff writers, photographers and editors who put it together.

The project sought to spur a reexamination of how America teaches and celebrates its own history. It caused debate among academics, journalists, even within The New York Times itself. Criticisms of its accuracy by some prominent historians led to edits and clarifications, but Hannah-Jones and the Times stand by the project, the introductory essay to which won her the 2020 Pulitzer for commentary.

Last summer, Hannah-Jones went through the rigorous tenure process at UNC, King said. Hannah-Jones submitted a package King said was as well reviewed as any King had ever seen. Hannah-Jones had enthusiastic support from faculty and the tenure committee, with the process going smoothly every step of the way — until it reached the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.

The board reviews and approves tenure applications. It chose not to take action on approving Hannah-Jones’s tenure.

“I’m not sure why and I’m not sure if that’s ever happened before,” King said.

Let me see if I can clear it up: Conservative white people started conservative white peopling. Or, as a trustee who didn’t want to be named told NC Policy Watch: “Politics.”


“This is a very political thing,” the trustee said. “The university and the board of trustees and the Board of Governors and the legislature have all been getting pressure since this thing was first announced last month. There have been people writing letters and making calls, for and against. But I will leave it to you which is carrying more weight.”

Some members of the board tried to argue that Hannah-Jones couldn’t get a tenured position because she doesn’t come from a teaching background, but that too is bullshit.


“There was some discussion about ‘She is not from a teaching background, she is not from academia, so how can she just get a tenured position?’” the trustee told NC Policy Watch. “But if you look at the previous Knight Chairs, if you look at Penny Abernathy for instance, these are people who come from the world of journalism. That’s the idea. That’s what the program is and it’s always been that way. So that argument doesn’t really hold water.”

King noted that while she’s not happy with the outcome, she’d rather have some of Hannah-Jones than nothing at all.


“She represents the best of our alumni and the best of the business,” King said. “I don’t want to get into a food fight. I want to make sure that our students have the opportunity to have someone of her caliber here and to learn from her. I think our faculty do as well. I realize this is a fraught era in the state. When I heard that the chancellor and the provost wanted to move to this, it was better than having a battle royale about the theory of academic freedom.”

“Our job is to expose our students to the great issues of our time,” King said. “This is a fraught time and a time of racial reckoning.”

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


sigmapapi...(No me importa!)

None of this is surprising from this trash school. I understand the desire to teach at your alma mater but damn I wish a more prominent school of journalism, Northwestern for example, would give her the full ride.

Fuck UNC-CH.