She will instead be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard University, she told “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King.
UNC had initially denied Hannah-Jones tenure following backlash to her signature work, the 1619 Project, which examines the long-term consequences of slavery in America. Though it won a Pulitzer Prize, it has been criticized by historians for inaccuracies, and Republican lawmakers have opposed the Biden administration’s efforts to incorporate Jones’ work in its education agenda.
Hannah-Jones said on CBS’ “This Morning” it was a “tough decision,” but one she felt she had to make because of “what it took” to get there.
Hannah-Jones suggested that the color of her skin had something to do with the faculty’s decision, considering the history of tenure at the institution.
“Because look what it took to get tenure,” she said. “This was a position that since the 1980s came with tenure. The Knight chairs are designed for professional journalists when working in the filed, to come into academia. Every other chair before me, who also happened to be white, received that position with tenure.”
“To only have that vote occur on the last possible day, at the last possible moment after threat of legal action, after weeks of protests, after it became a national scandal, it’s just not something I want anymore,” she added.
The 1619 Project and critical race theory have become controversial initiatives which concerned parents have tried to keep out of U.S. schools, with many speaking out at local school board meetings. Several states have introduced legislation to ban the teaching of CRT.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.