Jan 16, 2024 - News

Hannah-Jones addresses MLK Council in Arkansas

Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project, spoke Saturday at the Fayetteville Public Library. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of The 1619 Project, addressed several hundred people Saturday at the Fayetteville Public Library.

  • A Knight Chair in race and journalism at Howard University, she was part of the 28th annual Recommitment Celebration hosted by the Northwest Arkansas MLK Council.

Of note: A Hulu documentary series titled "The 1619 Project" hosted by Hannah-Jones recently won the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.

  • She and Oprah Winfrey were executive producers of the series.

Flashback: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr. opposed Hannah-Jones for a tenure position at the University of North Carolina in 2021.

  • Hussman committed $25 million to the school in 2019.
  • Hannah-Jones ultimately dropped pursuit of the UNC position and joined Howard University.

What happened: Hannah-Jones discussed the flap Saturday but didn't mention Hussman by name.

  • The UNC board approved her for tenure, she told the crowd, but she knew two days into the controversy she would go to an historically Black university.

Yes, but: She did mention U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and his Saving American History Act of 2021, which seeks to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for The 1619 Project curriculum in public schools.

  • The bill states that the project's information "... threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded."

What she said: "I'm a bad 'B' … but if a single piece of journalism can bring down the union…" maybe it's not that strong to begin with, Hannah-Jones said.


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