ATTORNEYS FOR NICOLE
By Cash Michaels
Attorneys for heralded Black scholar and NY Times journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones have now drawn a line in the sand.
In a May 27th letter sent to General Counsel Charles Marshall, UNC-Chapel vice chancellor, the flagship school of the UNC System has until Friday, June 4th, to offer tenure to Hannah-Jones, or face a federal lawsuit.
The threat comes after Hannah-Jones - Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary in the controversial New York Times The 1619 Project - in addition to other prestigious awards, was denied the customary tenure offer to become a Knight chair at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
In the May 27th letter from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the law firms of Levy Ratner, and Ferguson Chambers and Sumter, Hannah-Jones’ attorneys reveal the actual timeline of events leading up to the denial of tenure (otherwise known as lifetime employment).
If the allegations contained wherein are true, the UNC Board of Trustees may have a difficult time explaining why Hannah-Jones was treated differently the previous Knight Chairs.
According to the letter, “…every Knight Chair at UNC since 1980 has been granted tenure upon appointment, [and] many of whom, like Ms. Hannah-Jones, were practicing journalists at the time of their appointments.”
One of the keys to the dispute is that the offer was made to Hannah-Jones by the Hussman School late last year, and was scheduled for ratification by the UNC - Chapel Hill Trustee Board in November 2020.
The board met then, but never dealt with the matter, which was considered odd.
According to the four-page letter, up until that point, both the Hussman School’s review committee and faculty had unanimously recommended tenure for Hannah-Jones. A sign-off also came from UNC-Chapel Hill Provost Robert Blouin and Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz.
Based on all of the above, by the time the November 2020 UNC Trustee Board meeting occurred, Hannah-Jones had already begun the process of securing a permanent residence in Chapel Hill, expecting to begin work at the university in January 2021.
No explanation as to why the UNC Trustee Board failed to approve Hannah-Jones’ tenure contract was given to her. When the UNC Trustee Board met again in January, and did not take up the issue, Hannah-Jones knew something was wrong.
“In late February 2021…,” the attorneys’ letter continues, “…Ms. Hannah-Jones was told that she would be offered a five-year contract instead of being granted tenure. Having already made significant personal and professional arrangements to join the UNC faculty in reliance upon the promise of tenure, and without a full understanding of the reasons for this major reversal, Ms. Hannah-Jones reluctantly accepted the fixed-term contract.”
“It is here where Hannah-Jones’ attorneys make the charge that the UNC Trustee Board “…was motivated by a desire to suppress her research, writing and speech related to the story and legacy of American slavery and its continuing ramifications in entrenched racial inequalities and racial injustices in America, as exemplified by the 1619 Project.”
After making it clear that UNC officials are legally prohibited from doing such, the attorneys add, “in taking an adverse employment action to chill Ms. Hannah-Jones’ expression of First Amendment protected speech, UNC has engaged in unlawful viewpoint discrimination…,” in addition to race-based employment discrimination and retaliation.
Ultimately, Hannah-Jones’ attorneys threaten a federal lawsuit to be filed on Friday, June 4th, if the UNC Trustees don’t replace the five-year fixed term offer with unconditional tenure.
There has been been no official reaction to the lawsuit threat by press time, and the board is not scheduled to meet before then.
There has been uniformed outrage from students and faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill over the alleged circumstances of Hannah-Jones’ hiring. The outrage has been shared by journalists and celebrities across the nation.
Political conservatives, especially in the NC General Assembly, all admit that they don’t support Hannah-Jones’ previous work, but they also hasten to add that they had nothing to do with denying her tenure.
Her attorneys are seeking all correspondence between state lawmakers and UNC Trustee Board members to see if that is true.
At least some negative emails about Hannah-Jones have been uncovered, and that’s from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media’s namesake - Walter Hussman, conservative publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, who donated $25 million to UNC- Chapel Hill previously. In several emails uncovered by The Assembly online magazine, Hussman purportedly wrote to Hussman School top officials and at least one UNC Board of Trustees Board member,“I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC journalism school to the 1619 project,” in a late December email, later adding, “Based on [Hannah-Jones] own words, many will conclude she is trying to push an agenda, and they will assume she is manipulating historical facts to support it. If asked about it, I will have to be honest in saying I agree with the historians.”
BILL TO GIVE HBCUS
By Cash Michaels
Once again there’s an effort to fully fund UNC System HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) through the NC General Assembly.
Sponsored by representatives Zack Hawkins (D-Durham), James Gaillaird (D-Nash) and Ricky Hurtado (D-Alamance), HB 966, if passed, is “AN ACT TO ALLOCATE ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO CONSTITUENT INSTITUTIONS IDENTIFIED AS HISTORICALLY MINORITY-SERVING INSTITUTIONS, TO ESTABLISH THE HISTORICALLY MINORITY-SERVING INSTITUTIONS ADVISORY BOARD, AND TO ADD CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS TO THE NORTH CAROLINA TEACHING FELLOWS PROGRAM.
The proposed bill identifies UNC System HBCUs as HMSIs (Historically Minority -Serving Institutions).
Accordingly, the bill states that because of “historical and continued inequality in funding provided to constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina HMSIs and to provide enhancement funding for the purpose of ensuring these institutions are comparable and competitive with other constituent institutions in all facets of their operations and programs, there there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina the sum of twenty million dollars in additional recurring funds to be allocated to each of the following constituent institutions for 10 fiscal years, beginning with the 2021-2022 fiscal year until the 2030-2031 fiscal year:
1) North Carolina Central University
2) North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
3) Fayetteville State University
4) Winston-Salem State University
5) Elizabeth City State University
6) University of North Carolina at Pembroke
UNC-Pembroke serves primarily a Native American population.
The bill goes on to state that the “…funds may be used for scholarships, faculty recruitment, course development and general operational support.
The proposed measure also establishes an HMSI Advisory Board made up of 17 members - Seven appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the state Senate, three of which shall be legislators; seven by the NC House Speaker; three appointed by the governor, with one of those designated as chair.
Nine of those appointed “…shall have attended or graduated from one of the historically minority-serving constituent institutions” of the UNC System.
The purpose of the HMSI Board will be to “…study strategies and actions that can be taken to increase the rate of enrollment, retention, and graduation…” of UNC System HMSIs, among other duties, and “…submit its preliminary findings and recommendations to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina and to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee no later than December 15, 2022, and shall submit a final report to the Board of Governors and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee no later than March 15, 2023. The Board shall terminate on March 15, 2023, or upon the filing of its final report, whichever occurs first.”
The act would become effective July 1st, 2021, if enacted into law.
STATE NEWS FOR 06-03-21
WAKE SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN ALSO INTERIM WARREN COUNTY SUPT JULY 1
[RALEIGH] A former candidate for NC Supt. Of Public Instruction, and current chairman of the Wake County School Board, has added another moniker to his resume. As of July 1st, Keith Sutton will also be the interim superintendent of Warren County Public Schools. Sutton says he is willing to assume the post permanently if asked, and leave the Wake County Public School Board. Sutton adds that he wants to help Warren County Public schools transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as focus on summer plans and focus on improving academic performance.
Warren County Public Schools enroll 1700 students.
BLACK GOP LT. GOV. RECORDS MESSAGE FOR BANKRUPT NRA
[RALEIGH] Never mind that the nation is still experiencing mass shootings because of lax gun laws, and never mind that the National Rifle Association - the strongest gun lobby in the world - claims that it is virtually bankrupt, even though it’s leaders live lavishly off of members dues. The black Republican Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, Mark Robinson, still saw fit to record a fundraising/membership video for the notorious NRA, where he compared efforts at gun control to Jim Crow laws, and “represent an effort rooted in racism that seeks to leave people of color “disarmed and defenseless.” Robinson added that white liberal “bigots” like Nancy Pelosi and Pres. Joe Biden “work with the Klan to take guns away from Black Americans,” while the NRA “is fighting to arm” Blacks.
As always, there is little to no evidence proving what Lt. Gov. Robinson is alleging.
HURRICANE SEASON IS OFFICIALLY HERE
[WILMINGTON] As of Tuesday, June 1st, hurricane season for 2021 is officially underway, and ends Nov. 30th. At least 6 to 10 hurricanes are expected, with at least 3 to 5 of them become major storms with wind of 111 mph or higher. As always, pay attention to weather forecasts and breaking news tracking the storms s you and your family can get to safety safety.