May 17, 2021
New York Times Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has dedicated her life to rewriting history with her Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘1619 Project’ that places slavery as a founding institution of America. Nikole was honored at the 2021 Urban One Honors ceremony, this weekend, among a handful of other Black women who’ve helped advance the culture.
The show highlighted the exemplary contributions of “Women Leading the Change,” including: politician Stacey Abrams, health advocate Dr. Ala Stanford, alchemist Rosalind Brewer, CEO Kim Ford, reparations ambassador Robin Rue Simmons and a special tribute to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
“Journalism has always been a necessity to Black liberation,” said Nikole in a tribute video. “It is journalists who are covering the movement and exposing brutality that protestors and activists are facing that actually forces changes in this country.”
In 2019, Nikole created “The 1619 Project,” her magnum opus she says she had been obsessing over the year since she was a self-proclaimed “nerdy high school student.” She took an interest in the history of slavery after she noticed how the school curriculum notably skipped the history of The White Lion ship that carried the first African slaves to America. Yet, students were taught about the Mayflower ship, which landed in 1620.
“We weren’t just being taught historical facts, we were being taught a historical narrative,” she declared. “That’s because our country does not want to deal with the hypocrisy of our founding. We have not wanted to deal with how foundational slavery was. We have not wanted to center Black people as the vindicators of democracy.”
So Nikole sparked the conversation that would challenge that narrative and reposition slavery as a founding brick of America’s democracy. Though she’s faced opposition, Nikole feels her work is important. “I can’t be intimidated doing what I do because our people have been through far worse.”
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