Ta-Nehisi Coates to join Howard University faculty

Ta-Nehisi Coates to join Howard University faculty

Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates is joining the Howard University faculty.

Coates, a Howard University alumnus and former national correspondent for The Atlantic, will join the faculty as the Sterling Brown Chair in the English department. He will begin in the position “following completion of several current obligations,” according to the school.

“I heard a wise man once say, ‘A man who hates home will never be happy.’ And it is in the pursuit of wisdom and happiness that I return to join the esteemed faculty of Howard University. This is the faculty that molded me. This is the faculty that strengthened me,” Coates said in a statement.

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“Personally, I know of no higher personal honor than this,” he added.

Coates's writing focuses on topics of race and white supremacy. He won a 2015 National Book Award for his book "Between the World and Me," which explored violence against Black people in the United States and was written in the form of a letter to his son.

In addition to Coates, the historically Black university also announced Tuesday that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones would be joining its faculty.

Hannah-Jones will be a tenured member of the faculty and serve as the newly created Knight Chair in Race and Journalism.

“It is my pleasure to welcome to Howard two of today’s most respected and influential journalists,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Fredrick said in the statement.

“At such a critical time for race relations in our country, it is vital that we understand the role of journalism in steering our national conversation and social progress. Not only must our newsrooms reflect the communities where they are reporting, but we need to infuse the profession with diverse talent,” he added.

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Hannah-Jones’s hire comes after she was embroiled in a controversy involving the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she is an alumna.

The North Carolina school initially denied Hannah-Jones tenure after inviting her to join the university’s faculty as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, reportedly the first time the person selected for the chair position was denied tenure.

The decision to deny The New York Times Magazine journalist tenure allegedly came after conservative groups complained about her hire at the school because of her work on The 1619 Project, which examines the role slavery played in America’s founding.

The University ultimately voted to approve tenure for Hannah-Jones last week, but the journalist on Tuesday told Gayle KingGayle KingTa-Nehisi Coates to join Howard University faculty Nikole Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer for position at Howard University Woman who falsely accused Black teen of stealing phone charged with hate crime MORE on “CBS This Morning” that she was rejecting the offer for a similar position at Howard.

"It's a very difficult decision, not one I wanted to make," Hannah-Jones said.

She said, "To be denied it, and to only be granted tenure on the last possible day at the last possible moment after legal action, after weeks of protests, after it became a national scandal, it's just not something I wanted anymore.”

In a statement later Tuesday, Hannah-Jones denounced the University of North Carolina for treating her “so shabbily.”

“These last few weeks have been very dark. To be treated so shabbily by my alma mater, by a university that has given me so much and which I only sought to give back to, has been deeply painful,” she said.

“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Black Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans. Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it,” she added.