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Who is Nikole Hannah-Jones and Why is She Being Offered a Professorship Chair at a Major University?

You probably have heard her name but are unsure why you know it. It has been spoken many times and enshrined in print even more over the last year. You will likely recognize the name of her brainchild far more easily: The 1619 Project.

Nonetheless, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the controversial snake oil bearing that name, took over the highly prestigious Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism Thursday at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC).

The brazenly bad scholarship that attempts to reframe American history and the origins of this country — repeatedly exposed by historians of all social and political stripes — has not slowed down the efforts of far-Left racialists to push teaching Hannah-Jones’ work wherever they can find acceptance for it. Those efforts coincide with other efforts, such as placing Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools and advocacy for social reforms through the institution of the “anti-racism” theories of Ibram X. Kendi.

Now the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) has apparently joined in the effort to foist this kind of questionable scholarship onto their students. UNC has hired Hannah-Jones for the chairmanship in the school’s African and Afro-American Studies department. It has set off a firestorm of controversy over whether the seat should come with tenure. Her offer for tenure was previously pulled due to “conservative groups” with “direct ties to the Republican-dominated UNC Board of Governors,” The Daily Wire reported in late May.

Written by Hannah-Jones while working on The New York Times Magazine, the 1619 Project has been a lightning rod for criticism since it was first published on the magazine’s website. Since then, New York Times Magazine editors have quietly removed controversial language from the online version of Hannah-Jones’s work.

Rather than being a scholarly paper, it consists of a package of essays that argue chattel slavery defines America’s founding. There is very little of the scholarly citation indicating supporting research, and much of that is from fringe works that have also been debunked.

Hannah-Jones herself also asserts now that the project’s core thesis is not what she and everyone else involved originally said their work determined.

The work “does not argue that 1619 is our true founding,” she said in September. She declared elsewhere in July 2020 that it “doesn’t argue, for obvious reasons, that 1619 is our true founding.”

That is a brazen lie. When the 1619 Project debuted both online and in print in August 2019, the online version’s text stated originally:

“The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

Times editors are now rapidly backpedaling from that and other controversial content, much of which remains in the print version, which they can’t change. For example, in the passage cited above, the online version removes the phrase, “ … understand 1619 as our true founding … “ while leaving the rest of the paragraph mostly intact.

The fact is UNC making the move to preserve the lies, fraudulent research and revisionist history of Hannah-Jones by offering her a department chair should come as no surprise. It was this same school that got caught offering fake classes to student athletes and others to help preserve their eligibility and improve their GPA.

It was one of the most notorious academic fraud scandals in recent history, in which the African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department gave virtually illiterate students top grades and ran no-show classes. That is the soiled venue in which Hannah-Jones would teach and do “research.”

In 2012, an audit found that between 2007 and 2009, at least 52 courses had professors who never or rarely showed up. The department also awarded grades for “independent studies” that did not involve any classes, and in at least one case awarded an A to a basketball player who wrote a one-paragraph paper on Rosa Parks as the sole product of his entire semester of independent study. Other times, grades assigned by actual classes were mysteriously changed by someone within the department later.

It is in this corrupt environment that Hannah-Jones took her seat Thursday as the Knight Chairman. Part of the work-around for her lack of tenure was UNC-Chapel Hill offering her a five-year term, with the potential for tenure down the road.

While many UNC grads are displeased she is not being offered full tenure immediately, as has been the tradition, the Board of Trustees — mostly conservative in sociopolitical views — are taking a “wait-and-see” attitude. That is a wise choice. Given the academic sham, mediocre research and outright lies found in The 1619 Project, there is no other logical approach.

The work has already tainted academia nationwide. For example, the Pulitzer Center, an “education partner” for the 1619 Project, continues to describe the initiative thus: “The 1619 Project … challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation’s foundational date.”

Once introduced, academic theories that gain traction because of the “wokeness” behind them rather than their actually showing any real scholarship, die hard. Regardless of how dishonest, deceptive, and counterfeit Hannah-Jones and her “project” have proven to be, they fit the current narrative.

Apparently, that’s all that matters.

By: Mike Nichols

“Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, behavioral therapist, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at https://mikenichols.substack.com and a Facebook presence at https://www.facebook.com/AmericasConservativeVoice.Substack.”

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