80 years before Nikole Hannah-Jones, another Howard professor ignited outrage

Published July 21, 2021


The Washington Post published an editorial by Carole Emberton, on journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ decision to turn down the University of North Carolina’s belated offer of tenure to instead accept a position at Howard University. Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer-Prize winning of the 1619 Project, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States. “This is not the first time Howard and its faculty have been at the center of a political firestorm over the writing of American history,” writes Emberton. “In the late 1930s, Sterling Brown, a renowned poet and Howard professor, became the focus of a congressional inquiry over his work for the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). Like Hannah-Jones more than 80 years later, Brown also engendered political opposition and debate about what constitutes U.S. history when he tried to center the narrative on the diverse experiences of Black Americans.”



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