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Nicole Hannah Jones rejects UNC's tenure offer for a position at Howard University


 Nicole Hannah Jones rejects UNC's tenure offer for a position at Howard University

The trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill initially did not offer the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's tenure after a backlash from conservatives who condemned her appointment.

Nicole Hannah Jones rejects UNC's tenure offer for a position at Howard University

Nicole Hannah Jones at the graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta on May 16. Marcus Ingram profile/Getty Images

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicole Hannah Jones turned down a tenure offer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a faculty position at Howard, the historically Black University in Washington, DC.

She made the announcement Tuesday in an interview on CBS This Morning, telling host Gayle King that she had "decided to decline the position offer" from the University of North Carolina, her alma mater.

Nicole Hannah Jones rejects UNC's tenure offer for a position at Howard University

"It was a difficult decision, not one I wanted to make," Hannah Jones said. "Instead, I will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University."

The school has announced that it will be joining the acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates as a faculty member at the university. Coates will be a faculty member of the leading College of Arts and Sciences, and Hannah Jones will be a tenure member of the faculty at the Cathy Hughes School of Communications.

The decision, widely criticized, sparked protests at the state's main university. Hannah Jones' legal team said she would not join the college "without the protection and security of the job."

Last Wednesday, the university's trustees voted 9-4 to approve the position of famed journalist Hannah Jones, the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the "Genius Grant."

"Every chair in front of me, which just happened to be white, got that position and hold," she said. "And so, for that to be rejected, for that vote to take place on the last possible day, at the last possible moment, after the threat of legal action, after weeks of protests, after it's become a national scandal — it's not something I want anymore."

In a statement issued Tuesday, Howard University President, Wayne Frederick, said he was honored to have Hannah Jones and Coates, "two of the most respected and influential journalists today," join the university's faculty.

Frederick said, “At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is imperative that we understand the role of journalism in guiding our national conversation and social progress. Our newsrooms do not have to reflect the societies in which they report, but we need to instill diverse talents into the profession.”

Coates, a Howard alumnus and 2015 MacArthur Prize recipient, said there was "no higher personal honor" than being appointed to the faculty at his home university. He is best known as the writer of the 2014 essay, "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic and author of the New York Times bestselling book "Between the World and Me", which was a letter to his son about growing up a black man in the United States

Hannah Jones won a Pulitzer Prize last year for her work on The New York Times Magazine's 1619 Project, which investigates the consequences of slavery in the United States. The project has come under attack from some conservative critics, and has faced heavy criticism since its release in 2019.

Project 1619 is named after the year a ship carrying 20 to 30 enslaved Africans arrived in the then British colony of Virginia. It states that America was truly founded in 1619, when the first slaves were brought into the colonies, not 1776.