Nikole Hannah-Jones, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

May 2021
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (Public college or university)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones

    Nikole Hannah-Jones is a journalist best known for her work on "The 1619 Project"


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    Rally or Protests
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Nikole Hannah-Jones is a journalist for the New York Times best known for her work on “The 1619 Project.” She is a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant.” In May 2021, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees declined to vote on tenure for Hannah-Jones when she was hired as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, despite the fact that previous Knight Chairs at UNC have been hired with tenure and Hannah-Jones’s file was approved for tenure by faculty and administrators. Instead, Hannah-Jones was offered a five-year fixed-term contract. Sources on the board were quoted as saying that trustees had political objections to Hannah-Jones’s work and faced pressure from conservatives to prevent her hire, with or without tenure.

Controversy over the board’s failure to hold a tenure vote led to widespread condemnation by faculty, staff, alumni and some of the school’s largest donors and funding partners. In late May, attorneys for Hannah-Jones threatened a federal discrimination lawsuit against UNC-Chapel Hill if she was not offered tenure by June 4, saying that UNC “unlawfully discriminated against Hannah-Jones based on the content of her journalism and scholarship and because of her race.” Although the trustees did not meet the deadline, no lawsuit has yet been filed. On June 10, attorneys for UNC met with Hannah-Jones’s legal team to find a “potential resolution” to the tenure stand-off. This case is ongoing.