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Once again, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who created the 1619 Project, has courted controversy by her very presence.
This time, a group of students is fighting back on behalf of the author, journalist, and social justice warrior after she was unceremoniously uninvited from speaking at their school.
Ms. Hannah-Jones was originally invited to speak at Middlesex School in Concord. However, the multi-award winning journalist and content creator will no longer speak as scheduled. School officials were uncomfortable with her point of view on race, history, and the United States.
Some months ago, a dear friend asked me for a favor. Her former boarding school, Middlesex, wanted me to come speak as part of BHM. Speaking at this type of school is not something I typically do, but she’s my friend. I said yes. I just learned the Pres & board canceled my talk.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) October 18, 2021
Hannah-Jones was set to speak at Black History event
Students immediately protested through a planned walk-out event.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, AliJah Clark, a 17-year-old junior and organizer of the event, said the walk out was “to show our disappointment in our leadership, and that this decision was made by the leader and not by our school, and our school represents something totally different than the decisions of our leader.”
Ms. Hannah-Jones had initially been invited to speak at the school’s Black History event, scheduled for November.
The email from school officials, some of which Ms. Hannah-Jones put up on Twitter, stated that “According to my head of school and board, the ‘noise’ associated with having Nikole as the speaker would take away from the overall experience.”
Ms. Hannah-Jones did not name the person who sent the email. She confirmed, however, that the sender was trying to “help the school and the board make a different decision.”
Hannah-Jones blames “right-wing propaganda”
Nikole Hannah-Jones did not mince words for the school and members of the school board who decided she was an inappropriate speaker for Black History Month.
“I think it’s pretty clear that we are in a moment where schools are facing intense pressure not to invite speakers that are considered to be focusing too much on race and racism and the Black experience in American history,” Hannah-Jones said in an interview with the Boston Globe on Tuesday.
“We know that there have been several very high-profile stories published in the press or by former journalists that are, you know, castigating these elite white prep schools for daring to have anti-racism training or daring to invite anti-racist speakers, so I think I’m clearly getting caught up in that. And then obviously I, myself, because of a very successful right-wing propaganda campaign, I have become a symbol as well.”
Ultimately, Hannah-Jones stated she was both surprised and unsurprised by the axed invitation, which had already been planned months in advance. However, she is not letting up on her projects that incorporate the truth about American history, with a focus on racism, white supremacy, and slavery.
She made it clear she won’t allow critics to silencer her. In a statement, Ms. Hannah-Jones confirmed she will continue to “speak where I am wanted.”