Nikole Hannah-Jones, student newsrooms, HBCUs

The Center for Journalism and Democracy Opens at Howard University

Today, the Center for Journalism & Democracy opens at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Founded by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, the Center is the first-of-its-kind academic center committed to strengthening historically-informed, pro-democracy journalism. 

“More than a year ago, I came to Howard University with a vision to create a space for veteran and budding journalists to hone their craft and respond to our increasingly threatened democracy. Today, we officially launch the Center for Journalism & Democracy, and hold our inaugural Democracy Summit to showcase our philosophy that democracy not only guarantees a free press — it requires one,” said Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of the Center for Journalism & Democracy.

“The Center aims to be a key resource and national player for investigative journalism. We are an open learning community with a mission to prod the profession to rise to the urgency of the moment.”

Today’s Democracy Summit is a day-long convening of historians, democracy experts and journalists to collectively unpack present and specific threats to American democracy, examine how American media is covering this moment, and come away with a new vision for protecting our democracy now. Today’s programming includes a special message from President Barack Obama and also features Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Anthea Butler, Greg Carr, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Avery Davis-Roberts, Astead Herndon, Maria Hinojosa, Sherrilyn Ifill, Cassandra Jaramillo, Steven Levitsky, Wesley Lowery, Rachel Orey, Jodi Rave Spotted Bear, Kathy Roberts Forde, Jay Rosen, Jason StanleyKeeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and more. To watch the Democracy Summit live, please click here.

“Howard University has a time-honored tradition of protecting and preserving our nation’s democracy by shedding a light on the Black experience. We are home to the nation’s oldest Black collegiate newspaper, as well as one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for archival material documenting the Black experience, and we are honored to be the home of the Center for Journalism & Democracy,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University.

“It is an incredible gift to have Professor Hannah-Jones’ expertise and leadership be a part of our longstanding tradition of Black intellectual thought.”

“We are proud to see her vision of creating an academic center that honors and disseminates the traditions of the Black press come to life. The curriculum, programming, and resources the Center provides will strengthen our commitment to educating the next generation of diverse journalists.”

“The vigilance, critical analysis and clarity of purpose that is required of journalism today grounds our aspirations for the Center. We want to remind people of the power and necessity of courageous journalism. Now is the time,” said Dr. Kali-Ahset Amen, executive director of the Center for Journalism & Democracy.

The Center will create investigative reporting courses and journalism programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), support their campus news organizations, provide financial and career support for student journalists, host symposia, train faculty and launch a visiting professorships program to bring practitioners of investigative reporting into the classrooms of HBCUs. It will work in partnership with the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center on the Black Press Archives Project, which seeks to digitize Howard’s extensive Black newspaper archives, and will fund reparations reporting projects as well. All of the Center’s activities are designed to engage conversation about and commitment to the field of investigative journalism, and to strengthen it in service of democracy. With the center, Howard University will become one of the few journalism programs nationwide to offer a slate of courses with an investigative focus.

Additionally, the Center will work with multiple historically HBCUs that offer journalism degrees and concentrations. This includes Morehouse College, Florida A&M University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, Savannah State University, and Texas Southern University.