Nikole Sheri Hannah-Jones (born April 9, 1976) is an American investigative journalist, known for her coverage of civil rights in the United States. In April 2015, she became a staff writer for The New York Times. In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and in 2020 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work on the controversial 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones is the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at the Howard University School of Communications, where she also founded the Center for Journalism and Democracy.
- We've only had multiracial democracy in this country for fewer than 60 years, meaning we've only had democracy in the US for fewer than 60 years. In places where Black people outnumbered white, we had violent minority rule. If you don't understand this, what are you reporting? We can keep pretending that economic anxiety is leading millions of Americans to be willing to subvert democracy but that is a willful blindness and an abdication of our duty to report the truth. We can keep pretending that our institutions will hold, but that defies history. Fears about eroding democracy are not abstract for the millions of Americans who will lose rights and suffer under a white Christian nationalist regime that does not believe a multiracial citizenry should be sharing power of governing.
- Oct 24, 2022 on Twitter
- When politicians decided protests shouldn't happen, Black people shouldn't vote, Black children shouldn't integrate schools, they called on law enforcement to enforce their desires, even when courts had ordered compliance with these rights.
- Jan 7 2021 on Twitter
- Of course many police officers have nothing to do with white nationalist groups, but there's never been a time where significant numbers did NOT engage with and share sympathies with white supremacists. The history of American policing begins in some places w the slave patrols.
- Jan 7 2021 on Twitter
- So, what we saw yesterday, again, is both shocking and utterly within the realm of what we know this country to be. The way law enforcement responds to Black protestors compared to white insurrectionist the most predictable aspect of all of this.
- Jan 7 2021 on Twitter
- According to head of Chicago police union, assaulting police like this was fine because these folks were frustrated.
- Jan 7 2021 on Twitter
- People on the right have been very afraid of a narrative that doesn't deify our founding, that actually forces us to confront it, because that leads to change. When people know better oftentimes they do better. We are seeing that now.
- Jun 20, 2020 on Joy Reid's show
- This has been a fundamental problem with news institutions, now and in the past. They attempt to cover racism and inequality without understanding it themselves.
- Jun 4 2020 on Twitter, responding to Dave Jamieson writing "More than 30 journalists of color at the Philadelphia Inquirer are calling out sick today in protest of systemic racism; others are taking part in a byline strike. This was prompted by the paper's disastrous 'Buildings Matter, Too' headline"
- Do those concerns about cancel culture and McCarthyism and censorship only apply to the left or do they apply to the POTUS threatening to investigate schools for teaching American journalism? Silence is deafening here.
- Sep 6 2020 on Twitter, responding to this article about Republicans censoring The 1619 Project
UN speech (2022)Edit
- I have dedicated my life’s work to excavating the modern legacy of transatlantic slavery
- We gather here to mark the global trade that took some 15 million beloved human beings across the Atlantic in the hulls of barbaric ships, the largest forced migration in the history of the world, one that would reshape the entire Atlantic world and transform the global economy. We must never forget the scale and the depth of the horrors that people of African descent suffered in the name of profit, profit that enriched the European colonial powers and built the nascent economy of the United States. We must never forget how the systems of slavery collapsed, only to be reborn in other models of violent and racist economic exploitation, such as what we benignly call Jim Crow in the United States, but what is more aptly called apartheid.
- just as important to remembering the legacy of the transatlantic slavery are the stories of Black resistance that would, more than any other force, lead to slavery’s collapse in our hemisphere.
- As we remember our brutal enslavement by people who believed themselves to be civilized, even as they tortured, abused and murdered other human beings for profit, for sugar for their tea, for molasses for their rum, for cotton to wear and for tobacco to smoke, we must remember most the fierce Black radical tradition of resistance, that did not begin with anti-colonialism efforts on the continent or with civil rights movements in the United States and other places, but with, as the scholar Cedric Robinson argued, the Cimarrones of Mexico, who ran away to Indigenous communities or formed their own fugitive communities known as palenques...
- We must remember that it was not merely the Enlightenment ideas, some reckoning amongst white abolitionists, that brought the end to the system that had enriched colonial powers, but that abolition was propelled by constant revolt that forced colonial powers to realize, as scholar Mary Reckford wrote, it would remain “more expensive and dangerous to maintain the old system than to abolish it.” Black people were actors in their own freedom. Obscuring and marginalizing stories of Black resistance serves to justify the hypocrisy of colonial Europe and the United States by insinuating that had slavery been so bad, surely, African peoples would have fought harder against it. These are lies of omission that in the absence of truth warp our collective memory.
- the defining story of the African diaspora in the Americas is not slavery, but our resistance to it, of people determined to be free in societies that did not believe they had a right to freedom.
- we, the people of the African diaspora, should not have to find ourselves still resisting. It is long past time for the European colonial powers, for the United States of America to live up to their own professed ideas, to become the great and moral nations that they believe themselves to be. It is not enough to simply regret what was done in the past; they are obligated to repair it.
- It is time for them to make reparations to the descendants of chattel slavery in the Americas. This is our global truth, the truth we as human beings understand with stark clarity: There can be no atonement if there’s no repair. It is time — it is long past time — for reparations for the transatlantic slave trade and all the devastation that it has wrought, and all the devastation that it continues to reap.
Interview with Democracy Now (2021)Edit
- the entire premise of The 1619 Project is that the legacy of slavery was not banished along with the institution of slavery in 1865, that slavery is one of the oldest institutions in our society. The English settled Jamestown in 1607. And by 1619, just 12 years later, they’re engaging in African slavery. So, that is 150 years before they even decide that they want to become their own country. And that slavery shaped everything, nearly everything, about the country that would ultimately be established.
- slavery has influenced our society in so many ways, but we’ve really invisibilized that. We’ve lost that connection and understanding. And what I argue for the project is the narrative of 1776 does not explain the insurrection on the Capitol in January. It doesn’t explain George Floyd and why a white police officer could feel that he could kill a man in front of witnesses and would not have to worry about facing any consequences. And it certainly doesn’t explain why we have a political party right now that is trying to instate minority rule. That is the legacy of 1619.
- If a patriotism has to be based on propaganda that really diminishes and tries to erase from memory the difficult parts of our past, it doesn’t seem like that is a genuine patriotism.
- When Texas seceded in 1836, it seceded in order to form a slaveholding republic. If you don’t teach that, then children are not able to understand all of the inequality that they have today.
- I have long said and claimed Ida B. Wells-Barnett as my spiritual godmother. She was honestly the first example of a Black woman doing the type of journalism that I wanted to do, which should tell you how undiverse or nondiverse the field of investigative reporting is, that I didn’t actually know living examples of Black women investigative reporters when I was young. So, she was a pioneering investigative journalist who really brought the scourge of lynching to a global audience. She would go into towns where a Black man or woman had just been lynched, and she would interview people, and she would document. And she was actually one of the early data reporters, because she started to collect data on how many lynchings were occurring, what were the reasons given for those lynchings, and then what did her reporting show. She also was a true intersectional woman. She was a suffragist and had to fight both for women’s rights to vote and against the racism within the suffragist movement. She was a civil rights activist. She was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where she had to fight against gender discrimination as a Black woman. And so, in so many ways, she was just this pioneering woman who fought for civil rights and equal rights across many fronts. And she was a woman who was largely reviled by white media. And I have in my Twitter bio that I’m a nasty — a slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress, because that’s what The New York Times, where I work, called Ida B. Wells while she was engaging in her anti-lynching crusade. So I take great strength from knowing that the attacks on me and the attacks on my work are really just part of a lineage of what happens when Black women and Black women journalists dare to challenge power and challenge authority. So, to receive the acknowledgment for this work about the Black experience on the same day that Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who like so many Black journalists never received the acknowledgment that they deserved, was just deeply gratifying, because I do my work in service of them.
- I think that we are ill-prepared for the moment that we’re in. I think too many political reporters just have too much faith in our political systems, and there is no evidence to back up that faith. So, I just hope that before it’s too late, enough of us get an understanding that we can’t cover what’s happening in our country right now as politics as usual, and you can’t dismiss all of these scholars of authoritarianism who are raising the alarm. We’ve got to do better. We know that reporting, the press, is the firewall of our democracy, and I don’t think the firewall is holding right now.
- The idea that random white citizens have the authority to stop and question a Black person, and if that Black person does not comply, they can use lethal force, that is a legacy of the slave patrols, which deputized all white Americans with the ability to question and stop and detain Black people and make sure that they were not in white spaces where they weren’t supposed to be.
- I think we have to decide if we are going to grapple honestly with our country or not.
The 1619 Project (2019)Edit
- While history is what happened, it is also, just as important, how we think about what happened and what we unearth and choose to remember about what happened
- White Americans desire to be free of a past they do not want to remember, while Black Americans remain bound to a past they can never forget.
- Reparations amount to a societal obligation in a nation where our Constitution sanctioned slavery, Congress passed laws protecting it, and our federal government initiated, condoned, and practiced legal racial segregation and discrimination against Black Americans until half a century ago. And so it is the federal government that would pay [reparations].
- If we are truly a great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.
- The racism we are fighting today was originally conjured to justify working unfree Black people, often until death, to generate extravagant riches for ... all the ancillary white people ... who earned their living and built their wealth from that free Black labor.
- The hundred-year period of racial apartheid and racial terrorism known as Jim Crow.
- To this day, the only Americans who have ever received government restitution for slavery were white enslavers in Washington, D.C., whom the federal government compensated after the Civil War for their loss of human property.
- We cannot make up for all the lives lost and dreams snatched, for all the suffering endured. But we can atone for it. We can acknowledge the crime. And we can do something to try to set things right, to ease the hardship and hurt of so many of our fellow Americans.
- None of us can be held responsible for the wrongs of our ancestors. But if today we choose not to do the right and necessary thing, that burden we own.
- School curricula generally treat slavery as an aberration in a free society, and textbooks largely ignore the way that many prominent men, women, industries, and institutions profited from and protected slavery.