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Why did Nikole Hannah-Jones reject the UNC tenure position?

The journalist has announced she will take a tenured position at Howard University

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Nikole Hannah-Jones attends the 75th annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.

In this May 21, 2016, file photo, Nikole Hannah-Jones attends the 75th annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.

Evan Agostini, Invivion via Associated Press

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, creator of the 1619 Project and now a professor at Howard University. The journalist turned down tenure at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after the university’s actions became a nationwide scandal, says NBC News.

  • Howard University is a historically Black institution in Washington, D.C., says NBC News.

Hannah-Jones announced on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday that she would not accept the position at UNC, reports HuffPost. Here’s why she rejected the offer.

Why was tenure controversial for Nikole Hannah-Jones?

At UNC, Hannah-Jones was named as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism; however, the Board of Trustees denied her tenure which traditionally accompanied the appointment, reports NBC News.

  • “Every other chair before me, who also happened to be white, received that position with tenure,” Hannah-Jones explained, per NBC News.
  • Conservatives on the board of trustees — who criticized Hannah-Jones’ work — pushed for her to be denied tenure, NBC News reported.

The denial raised concerns of discrimination, sparking protests on campus and across the country, HuffPost reports. The event became a nationwide scandal with the board of trustees eventually reversing their decision and offering Hannah-Jones tenure.

Why did she reject the tenure position at UNC?

For Hannah-Jones, the ordeal made UNC tenure “just not something that I want anymore,” per NBC News. Tuesday, she announced her decision to reject the UNC offer and to take a position at Howard University.

  • “It was a difficult decision, not a decision I wanted to make,” Hannah-Jones said Tuesday per NBC News.

Faculty at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media — where Hannah-Jones previously taught — released a statement saying that “while disappointed, we are not surprised ... it is understandable why Ms. Hannah-Jones would take her brilliance elsewhere.”

Where will she teach now?

Hannah-Jones will join Howard University as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. In this tenured position, she will lead the newly-created Center for Journalism and Democracy, reports HuffPost.

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, another acclaimed Black writer, has also accepted a position at Howard in the Center for Journalism and Democracy, reports NBC News.

Per NBC News, Hannah-Jones said the center “will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.”