Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones to headline ‘Color of Education 2021’

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the journalist at the center of the tenure debacle at UNC-Chapel Hill, will headline Color of Education 2021, the Public School Forum of NC announced Thursday.

The two-day virtual summit will bring together people from all over the state to exchange ideas and strategies to address systemic racial inequities in the education system.

The event will take place via Zoom Oct. 26-27, both days from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Hannah-Jones will speak on Oct. 26.

Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for the “The 1619 Project” while a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine. As Policy Watch has reported, “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.

In May, Policy Watch broke the story of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees denying Hannah-Jones a vote on tenure. Faculty, staff, students and alumni rallied around her. Major funding partners publicly called on the school to grant her tenure. The Knight Foundation, which endows the professorship for which Hannah-Jones was recruited, also pushed for the school to hire her with tenure — a status that has been afforded to all previous Knight Chairs at the school.

News stories revealed the university faced extensive pressure from conservatives, including Arkansas media magnate and UNC mega-donor Walter Hussman, to deny Hannah-Jones a vote on tenure and a teaching post at her alma mater because of her work on “The 1619 Project.”

When the university did offer of Hannah-Jones tenure in July, she turned it down to accept a tenured faculty position at Howard University, where the Knight Foundation established an endowed professorship in Race and Journalism for her.

At Howard, Hannah-Jones will join acclaimed author Ta-Nehisi Coates to launch the Center for Democracy and Journalism. Coates headlined Color of Education 2019.

Hannah-Jones has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, her work has earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards and the National Magazine Award three times. Hannah-Jones also earned the John Chancellor Award for Distinguished Journalism and was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. In 2020 she was inducted into the Society of American Historians and in 2021, into the North Carolina Media Hall of Fame.

Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which seeks to increase the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Color of Education is a partnership between the Public School Forum of North Carolina, the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University and the Center for Child and Family Policy at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy.

To register and purchase tickets for the event, visit https://colorofeducation2021.eventbrite.com.

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