Statement

Democracy Fund Statement on the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees Decision to Deny Tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones 

May 20, 2021

We call on the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees to reverse its decision to deny Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure. We have funded Hannah-Jones’s work at the Ida B. Wells Society, a project of UNC-Chapel Hill, since 2017. 

Hannah-Jones’s critical reporting on racism and segregation in schools and housing is unimpeachable, and the 1619 Project for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, is a profound contribution to the discussion about American democracy. Over the course of her 20-year career as an investigative journalist, she has epitomized speaking truth to power, in the tradition of Ida B. Wells. 

Hannah-Jones has earned her tenure position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. To deny it to her is to lean into the culture of white supremacy that has plagued U.S. academic institutions for far too long. This decision highlights the very inequities that Hannah-Jones has dedicated her career to revealing.

We urge the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees to reverse their decision and immediately repair the harm that has been done. 

Democracy Fund remains firmly committed to building more equitable journalism in North Carolina, where we have contributed nearly $3 million over the past five years to organizations in the state including the Ida B. Wells Society, the NC Local News Lab Fund, PressOn, and Free Press’s Charlotte News Voices.