Our State of Mind,
by Robin Martin
If you are not aware Nicole Hannah Jones is an award-winning African American journalist. Project 1619 sponsored by the New York Times was a factual, historical accounting of the institution of slavery, tribal history of the enslaved, it’s role in the economic wealth of America, that made American great, the people and places in history most affected by the institution of slavery, the politics of slavery, education, poverty of slavery, separation of families, and more.
The University of North Caroliina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees denied the well credentialed and graduate of UNC tenure, due to her 1619 Project. Jones had the support of the journalism faculty chairs at UNC and the students, however, that did not matter, politics mattered.
The Board did not vote for tenure, instead offered her a long-term contract.
Jones issued a well written statement of her ordeal, with the reasons why she refused the UNC offer. She did however, accept a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C., inaugural Knight Chair, a university built for the higher education of former slaves and their descendants, and named for American Civil War General Oliver Otis Howard, who fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Jones’ statement speaks for so many educators, present and former, who have experienced the same cruelty, at the mercy of Boards comprised of predominantly Caucasian or male members at varying levels of educational institutions in America.
Here is an excerpt of her statement published by the Legal Defense Fund:
“These last few weeks have been very dark. To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful.
“The only bright light has been all of the people who spoke up and fought back against the dangerous attack on academic freedom that sought to punish me for the nature of my work, attacks that Black and marginalized faculty face all across the country.
“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans. Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it. How could I believe I’d be able to exert academic freedom with the school’s largest donor so willing to disparage me publicly and attempt to pull the strings behind the scenes? Why would I want to teach at a university whose top leadership chose to remain silent, to refuse transparency, to fail to publicly advocate that I be treated like every other Knight Chair before me? Or for a university overseen by a board that would so callously put politics over what is best for the university that we all love? These times demand courage, and those who have held the most power in this situation have exhibited the least of it.”
African American History
1827 – The state of New York abolished slavery
1852 – July 5th, Frederick Douglass gives his famous “What To the Slave is the Fourth of July?’