Nikole Hannah-Jones, student newsrooms, HBCUs

Virginia Taxpayers Spark Rage Over Nikole Hannah-Jones’ $33,350 Speaking Engagement

A Virginia public library system is reportedly paying 1619 Project creator and anti-racist author Nikole Hannah-Jones over $35,000 dollars for an upcoming, hour-long speaking engagement.

According to the Fairfax County Times,  the hefty price tag amounted to $589 per minute of Hannah-Jones’ speech, where she will be speaking on themes from the 1619 Project.

A program agreement form provided to Hannah-Jones by the county noted the title of the event speech, “The 1619 Project – A New Origin Story.”

Some Fairfax residents were unhappy with Hannah-Jones appearance. Michael Albin, a member of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, called it a “misuse of public funds for propaganda programming.”

He added, “She’s invited to sabotage American history and ideals at a library talk, and when? … get this, on Presidents’ Day weekend, a patriotic national holiday. If that isn’t sabotage of our values, I don’t know what is.”

The Times noted that the combined payment amounts to “$57,850, or about the annual starting salary of about $54,421 for a librarian in Fairfax County.” The piece also claimed that last August, “library officials announced they were curtailing operating hours because of ‘ongoing staff recruitment challenges.’”

Hannah-Jones is most well known for her polarizing 1619 Project, a collection of essays published by The New York Times that insists that America’s founding history is steeped in more racism than has been traditionally taught.

One of the narratives established by the project is that the Revolutionary War was fought to protect and preserve the institution of slavery from the British crown.

Historians have heavily criticized the work over such claims, among others, though Hannah-Jones stands by it. She recently defended the controversial journalistic project during a Good Morning America interview on Wednesday.

After GMA host Robin Roberts  asked Hannah-Jones to sum up her work, the writer described it up in one work:, “Truth.”

The 1619 Project is now a six-episode program on Hulu. The first two episodes premiered on Jan. 26. The show is hosted by the project’s creator, Hannah-Jones, and it features some of the journalists and historians who contributed to the original 1619 Project.

Oprah Winfrey serves as the show’s executive producer. There’s also a talented team of producers and writers led by the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.