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Nikole Hannah-Jones Mulls Lawsuit Against UNC, Alleging She Was Racially Discriminated Against

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 Project, sent a letter to the University of North Carolina warning them that she may decide to sue them for discrimination over its decision to deny her tenure.


Hannah-Jones, whose legal team includes lawyers with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, sent the letter Thursday, alleging that she was discriminated against, due in part to her race:

I am obligated to fight back against a wave of anti-democratic suppression that seeks to prohibit the free exchange of ideas, silence Black voices, and chill free speech.

The board at UNC was accused of caving to pressure from critics of the 1619 Project, a historically inaccurate representation of U.S. history that aims to bring slavery to forefront, describing its mission as looking to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative."  

Hannah-Jones echoed these accusations, suggesting her denied tenure was a result of opposition to the project.

As a Black woman who has built a nearly two-decades-long career in journalism, I believe Americans who research, study, and publish works that expose uncomfortable truths about the past and present manifestations of racism in our society should be able to follow these pursuits without risk to their civil and constitutional rights.


LDF attorneys said in a statement:

UNC has unlawfully discriminated against Ms. Hannah-Jones based on the content of her journalism and scholarship and because of her race. We will fight to ensure that her rights are vindicated.

The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media was critical of the denial of Hannah-Jones and was appreciative of her previous work.

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