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Pulitzer Prize-Winner Nikole Hannah-Jones And Alum Ta-Nehisi Coates Join The Faculty At Howard University

Pulitzer Prize-Winner Nikole Hannah-Jones And Alum Ta-Nehisi Coates Join The Faculty At Howard University

Go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated!

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Howard alumnus Ta-Nehisi Coates are joining Howard University faculty; the university announced Tuesday morning. Hannah-Jones will come on as a tenured professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications this summer in the newly established position of Knight Chair in Race and Journalism. She turned down a recent tenure offer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that came after several months of protests and controversy over application for tenure being denied.

“I will be taking a position as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard University, founded in 1867 to serve the formerly enslaved and their descendants. There, I will be creating a new initiative aimed at training aspiring journalists to cover the crisis of our democracy and bolstering journalism programs at historically Black colleges and universities across the country,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement. “In the storied tradition of the Black press, the Center for Journalism and Democracy will help produce journalists capable of accurately and urgently covering the perilous challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor, and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.”

Coates, the award-winning author and journalist, will be a writer-in-residence in the College of Arts and Sciences and hold the Sterling Brown Chair in the Department of English. He said that he also plans to teach a creative writing course next year.

“That really is the community that made me,” Coates told The Washington Post. “I would not be who I am without the faculty at Howard.”

The “Between The World And Me,” author also plans to finish his bachelor’s degree, which he started in 1993 but has yet to pick a major.

“I heard a wise man once say, ‘A man who hates home will never be happy.’ And it is in the pursuit of wisdom and happiness that I return to join the esteemed faculty of Howard University. This is the faculty that molded me. This is the faculty that strengthened me,” Coates said in a statement. “Personally, I know of no higher personal honor than this.”

President of Howard University, Wayne A. I. Frederick, said in a statement that he’s pleased to welcome “two of today’s most respected and influential journalists.”

“At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is vital that we understand the role of journalism in steering our national conversation and social progress,” Frederick said. “Not only must our newsrooms reflect the communities where they are reporting, but we need to infuse the profession with diverse talent. We are thrilled that they will bring their insights and research to what is already a world-class, highly accomplished team of professors.

Their roles were made possible by nearly $20 million in donations from an anonymous donor and the Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, officials said. 

“I am so incredibly honored to be joining one of the most important and storied educational institutions in our country and to work alongside the illustrious faculty of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications and the brilliant students it draws in,” Hannah-Jones said. “One of my few regrets is that I did not attend Howard as an undergraduate, and so coming here to teach fulfills a dream I have long carried. I hope that the decision that Ta-Nehisi and I made to bring our talents to an HBCU will lead others to make a similar choice."

Susan King, dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill journalism school, one of the people who pushed for Hannah-Jones’ tenure at UNC, said she was disappointed but happy for her well-deserved position.

“We wish her nothing but deep success and the hope that UNC can learn from this long tenure drama about how we must change as a community of scholars in order to grow as a campus that lives by its stated values of being a diverse and welcoming place for all,” King said in a statement.

The support for Hannah-Jones and Coates has already come from the internet, many are excited for what this means for Historically Black Colleges and University's and Black journalists.

You are both Black excellence, we love watching you win! Congraulations!

 Photo Credit: Colin Boyle for The Daily Northwestern/Evan Agostini for the AP