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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones announced Tuesday that she will not be teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall, following a national controversy over an initial decision by the school's board of trustees not to offer her tenure.

The state of play: Hannah-Jones, the creator of the New York Times' 1619 Project about the history of slavery and its lasting impact in the U.S., will be joining Howard University as the tenured Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates will also join the faculty of the historically Black university.

The big picture: Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project have been heavily criticized by Republicans, who claim the essay contains historical inaccuracies and undermines patriotism. The project also drew considerable backlash from some prominent historians.

  • In April, UNC's board of trustees set aside Hannah-Jones' tenure application despite recommendations from the school's faculty and administrators. The school announced that it would instead offer her a fixed five-year contract.
  • The decision sparked backlash and a national controversy, with reports emerging that a prominent donor to UNC's journalism school had raised concerns about Hannah-Jones' academic credentials and impartiality.
  • After weeks of public pressure and scrutiny, the board of trustees voted 9-4 in a closed session last week to grant Hannah-Jones tenure. She characterized the initial delay as politically motivated and said it amounted to "illegal discrimination."

What they're saying: "I've spent my entire life proving that I belong in elite white spaces that were not built for Black people," Hannah-Jones said on CBS "This Morning," where she announced the decision.

  • "I got a lot of clarity through what happened with University of North Carolina. I decided I didn't want to do that anymore, that Black professionals should feel free, and actually perhaps an obligation to go to our own institutions and bring our talents and resources to our own institutions and help to build them up as well," she continued.
  • "This is not my fight. I fought the battle I wanted to fight. Which is I deserve to be treated equally and have a vote on my tenure. I won that battle. It's not my job to heal the University of North Carolina. That's the job of the people in power who created the situation."

Faculty members of UNC's Hussman School of Journalism addressed Hannah-Jones' decision in an open letter on Tuesday, writing:

While disappointed, we are not surprised. We support Ms. Hannah-Jones’s choice. The appalling treatment of one of our nation’s most-decorated journalists by her own alma mater was humiliating, inappropriate, and unjust.
We will be frank: It was racist.
Our school highly regards Ms. Hannah-Jones’s work, ability, and achievements. We regret that the top echelons of leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill failed to follow established processes, did not conduct themselves professionally and transparently, and created a crisis that shamed our institution, all because of Ms. Hannah-Jones’s honest accounting of America’s racial history. It is understandable why Ms. Hannah-Jones would take her brilliance elsewhere.

Read the full letter.

Go deeper

Critical race theory uproar sparks a new wave of school board recalls

Demonstrators protest critical race theory in schools in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Efforts to recall school board members are surging around the U.S. — and especially in California — amid Republican efforts to quash teaching about institutional racism.

Why it matters: Coordinated efforts by conservative groups are shaping public education, fueled by controversies over race as as well as backlash to COVID-19 closures.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

2 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.