1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones to speak at UNCW on Tuesday
WILMINGTON – Following the high-profile UNC-Chapel Hill pursuit of Nikole Hannah-Jones to join his faculty – which drowned in political controversy this summer and ended with his acceptance of another out of state offering – author of Project 1619 will be in Wilmington as part of UNCW Writers’ Week.
Hannah-Jones will join writer John Jeremiah Sullivan in a conversation Tuesday night. The conference will take place at the Kenan Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live via Zoom.
The timing coincides with the November commemoration of the Wilmington massacre of 1898 and the coup. This month, a series of events are planned across the county, including a ceremony to display soil samples “from places where black residents have been slaughtered by white mobs” and a memorial service at the grave. to honor one of the victims, whose grave was first discovered by the Third Person Project, a local research group.
Sullivan, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and other publications, is a co-founder of the Third Person Project, which unearthed the remains of the Daily Record, an African-American-owned newspaper destroyed in the coup.
“She’s a writer who brings black history to contemporary social justice issues,” Sullivan said of Hannah-Jones. “This city is doing the same thing, and the two stories are not far apart – that of Wilmington and that of the nation as a whole.”
Hannah-Jones, whose main essay for Project 1619 won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, became a national figure after the article was published in a special issue of the New York Times Magazine. Project 1619 “challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation’s founding date,” according to the Pulitzer Center. According to a performance agreement provided by UNCW, she will be paid $ 16,670, less 4% tax, for the appearance.
The 1619 Project drew criticism from some historians, media and online circles, particularly for a claim that “one of the main reasons the settlers decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution from slavery “. This story line was then changed to read “some of the settlers …”
“What she did that got everyone so pissed off was take historical understanding and plug it into contemporary America, and suggest a new way of reading the past that will require a new way of reading. the present and the future, ”Sullivan said.
Earlier this year, UNC-Chapel Hill recruited alumnus Hannah-Jones for a Knight Chair position at the School of Racial and Investigative Journalism. Other Knight Chair positions at Chapel Hill, which place media professionals in faculty positions, have come with tenure, requiring approval from the university’s board of trustees.
The Tory retreat, including outcry over actors in the state-wide higher education system, followed the lawsuit’s announcement. Chapel Hill’s board offered him a five-year contract, rather than the immediate tenure status accorded to previous UNC Knight presidents, despite Hannah-Jones’ support within the journalism school.
“It was a workaround,” a board member told NC Policy Watch in May. Walter Hussman – the newspaper editor whose $ 25 million donation to UNC had his name inscribed on the journalism school – has contacted university leaders to influence Hannah-Jones’ opinion.
Then, in late June, after the dispute and the potential for legal action grabbed international headlines, placing the UNC and Hannah-Jones at the center of a chaotic media narrative, the board of trustees pivoted. They voted 9-4 to grant Hannah-Jones the mandate after a closed-door meeting of nearly three hours.
Less than a week later, Hannah-Jones, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “engineering grant”, declined the offer from UNC – where she did her graduate studies – and announced that she would instead join the Howard University faculty in a newly created Knight Chair position.
“There has been some setback,” Sullivan said. “There are people inside the system who are not happy that she is coming.”
There was no hesitation on the part of UNCW, he added, and the efforts of author and associate professor Rebecca Lee were instrumental in shaping the conversation to come. Hannah-Jones could not be reached for comment on this story.
“I want to ask her about the experience of being exposed to the kind of backlash she’s been exposed to, and how you continue to function as a writer in the face of that, in the face of all this anger and hatred.” , Sullivan said.
Entrance is free and open to the public, but tickets must be registered in advance. Jia Tolentino, editor at The New Yorker, will speak at the Fisher Amphitheater Monday between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Kenan Auditorium.
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