Letter to the Board of Trustees
To: The Members of the Board of Trustees, UNC-Chapel Hill
Date: June 22, 2021
The staff and faculty of DAMES stand firmly with Nikole Hannah-Jones and categorically denounce UNC’s decision not to consider tenure for her new position as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, beginning July 1, 2021. This maneuver, without due process and transparency, amounts to racially biased treatment of an accomplished African American journalist and public intellectual, and runs counter to the stated values of the university. This action compromises the system of tenure and promotion at UNC-Chapel Hill, and greatly harms the reputation of the university. It undermines UNC’s efforts to dismantle anti-Black racism on campus, with incalculably hurtful implications for Black faculty, staff, and students at UNC. Ms. Hannah-Jones has received a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, among other accolades. By denying Ms. Hannah-Jones due consideration for tenure, the Board of Trustees is effectively “moving the goal post” for Black faculty on campus, and proving why her work is so critically important and urgently needed. We call on the Board of Trustees to grant Ms. Hannah-Jones tenure, effective upon her employment. Doing so will signal that university leaders support the work of diverse communities to reckon with UNC’s history of white supremacy, to dismantle the legacies of slavery in many forms including institutionalized racism, and to provide long overdue backing for faculty, staff, and students of color.