*Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project,” is considering legal action against the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill after losing her tenure offer.
“I had no desire to bring turmoil or a political firestorm to the university that I love, but I am obligated to fight back against a wave of anti-democratic suppression that seeks to prohibit the free exchange of ideas, silence Black voices and chill free speech,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement Friday, HuffPost reports.
We previously reported, per TheWrap, the university previously announced Hannah-Jones would teach in the Knight Chair position, which comes with the expectation of tenure. The reversal came after racist conservatives whined about the “1619 Project,” which is an examination of slavery in America and how it shaped nearly all aspects of society. According to NC Policy Watch, the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees decided not to approve Hannah-Jones’ tenure. She is instead under consideration for a fixed five-year contract as a professor of practice, according to reports.
Susan King, dean of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, reportedly called the decision “disappointing” and said it would create a “chilling effect.”
King said Hannah-Jones “represents the best of our alumni and the best of the business.” She added: “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.”
The NABJ, which honored Hannah-Jones with its Journalist of the Year award in 2015, noted that the denial of tenure was due to conservative opposition to her “1619 Project.”
“This failure is especially disheartening because it occurred despite the support for Hannah-Jones’s appointment as a full professor with tenure by the Hussman Dean, Hussman faculty, and university,” read a statement from 40 members of the Hussman School’s faculty released last week.
Hannah-Jones said in her Friday statement she will be represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.