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The faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill selected the highly accomplished Nikole Hannah-Jones to serve as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the UNC Haussmann School of Journalism and Media.
She was quite a catch: she has won a Pulitzer Prize, a coveted MacArthur Fellowship, has worked for major newspapers. She’s even an alumna of UNC. The committee that interviewed her was impressed. They offered her the chair and tenure. All previous holders of the chair at UNC were awarded tenure.
But the board of the university withdrew the offer of tenure. They said she lacked academic qualifications. They made that lie up on the spot, because the position is designed not for academics but for people with real world experience of journalism.
Twenty-two holders of the Knight Chair at other universities wrote a joint letter in support of Hannah-Jones and told the UNC-Chapel Hill board that they should be ashamed of themselves.
The Trumpian right is abuzz with fear about the 1619 Project and critical race theory. Nikole Hannah-Jones was in charge of producing the 1619 Project for the New York Times. it seeks to place slavery and racism at the center of the American experience. White traditionalists prefer to think only about the grand achievements of the Founding Fathers. This is the culture war issue that they have put front and center. They are not letting go.