Nikole Hannah-Jones, Ta-Nehisi Coates Join Howard Faculty

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Acclaimed journalists Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates, two of the nation’s leading voices on American intersections of race, class, politics, and culture, were today announced as the newest members of Howard University’s journalism and communications faculty ranks.

Hannah-Jones, a 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner as the architect of the 1619 Project, an anthology examining the impact of slavery on the construct of American life over 400 years, will receive full tenure at Howard following a controversial turn with the University of North Carolina’s flagship campus in Chapel Hill, which denied her tenure because of her work and recently rescinded the decision.

Hannah-Jones will serve as an endowed chair of journalism in the Cathy Hughes School of Communication and will establish the university’s Center for Journalism and Democracy, which officials say will be a training ground for journalists at historically Black institutions examing the nation’s critical areas of equity and opportunity.

“It is my pleasure to welcome to Howard two of today’s most respected and influential journalists,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, president of Howard University. “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. 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.

Hannah-Jones will be joined by Coates, a multi-genre writer who was the 2015 recipient of the MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ award presented in part for his non-fiction works The Case for Reparations and the autobiographical Between the World and Me.

Coates will teach in the newly reestablished HU College of Fine Arts.

According to officials, the appointments are supported by more than $20 million donated by Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, as well as by an anonymous donor, to support Howard’s continued education of and investment in Black journalists. 

“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.”

“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. “Personally, I know of no higher personal honor than this.”

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