Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, best known for founding The 1619 Projectsaid in an interview with a non-profit news organization that administrative delays made it impossible to carry out several academic projects intended to further the careers of young black investigative journalists.
Like her he told NC NewslineProjects included a summer internship and journalism program for North Carolina Central University high school students. Both were to be funded by the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reportingan organization founded by four black journalists, including Hannah-Jones, in the spring of 2015.
The Ida B. Wells Society is named after a crusading black journalist active in the late 1800s and early 20thth century. It moved its headquarters from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019. Three years later, the school appointed Hannah-Jones to an Appointed Chair of Journalism at the Hussman School of UNC Journalism and Media. But just a month after her announcement in April 2021, she was denied tenure, despite a résumé that included both a « brilliant » MacArthur fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. The reason? Her award-winning work, most famously The 1619 Project, has focused on the history of American racism. Right-wing activists he described his appointment as « a degradation of journalistic standards » and passionately campaigned against her.
In the wake of the national controversy, Hannah-Jones, herself a UNC-Chapel Hill alum, announced she would instead join the faculty at Howard University. There helped launch the Center for Journalism and Democracy to the prestigious historically black school. Meanwhile, the Ida B. Wells Society has moved to another HCBU, Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia. But funding has been slow to follow, according to NC Newsline.
Over the years, the Ida B. Wells Society has received approximately $3.8 million in funding from philanthropic entities, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the WK Kellogg Foundation. Only about half of that amount has so far been transferred to Morehouse.
« To date, we have completed the transfer of nearly $2.1 million in funds, » the UNC-Chapel communications office wrote in a statement to NPR. « We are working with Morehouse College and related funding agencies on the process for the remaining fund transfers. »
No one from the Ida B. Wells Society responded to NPR’s multiple requests for comment. According to NC Newsline article sources, those involved with the Company believe the process has been unusually slow. When it moved from its original location at the City University of New York to Harvard University, the transfer of funds took just over a month. However, gift agreements have evolved over time and the process for establishing and executing the documentation is complex.
Meanwhile, the Ida B. Wells Society told NC Newsline it is unable to tap into the operational funding it needs to launch the careers of a cohort of young black journalists. There is no mention of this on the Ida B. Wells Society webpage, which doesn’t appear to have been updated for almost a year. And while his Twitter and Facebook accounts remain active, none of his recent posts refer to the organization’s cancellation of programs.