Nikole Hannah-Jones Calls Out UNC For Holding Back Millions In Fellowships For Black Journalists

The founder of a program for Black students pursuing journalism says the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill owes her foundation millions of dollars.

Nikole Hannah-Jones told NC Newsline that UNC-Chapel Hill owes $3.8 million to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. She said it could no longer do the work it set out to do. Hannah-Jones said, per The Messenger, “It’s all of our operating funding, all of our grant money, our quasi-endowment.” She continued, “Without it, we can’t work toward our mission, we can’t do any of our work.”

According to Hannah-Jones, the program was canceled this year because UNC-Chapel Hill failed to transfer all the funding the program raised before moving locations. The society moved to Morehouse College in Atlanta after Hannah-Jones accepted a position at Howard University. The move occurred after the journalist was refused tenure at her alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill, The Messenger reported.

A spokesperson for the university said in a written statement that $2.1 million of the $3.8 million had already been paid. The spokesperson wrote per NC Newsline, “We have completed the transfer of nearly $2.1M in funds to date.” The spokesperson added, “We are working with Morehouse College and the relevant funding agencies on the process for the remaining fund transfers.”

The veteran journalist is one of four journalists who founded the program to give Black student journalists hands-on experience and resources to succeed in the field. According to the society’s website, Hannah-Jones founded the organization with Ron Nixon, Corey Johnson, and Topher Sanders.

Hannah-Jones embarked on the 1619 Project, a journalism feat, in August 2019. The project was first published in The New York Times Magazine. In 2021, the journalists released a No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, per BLACK ENTERPRISE. B.E. reported an expansion of the 1619 Project from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist premiered on Hulu this year in January.