The author and journalist, whose ‘1619 Project’ examines how slavery influenced the country’s founding, says she considers it an honor that her work has been banned in some states.
If you’ve always seen yourself in the story, you don’t know how degrading it is to constantly be erased and rendered insignificant!
~ Nikole Hannah-Jones
New York Times Reporter and
The Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, Howard University
Nikole Hannah-Jones acknowledged that her message at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment event might not be as optimistic as those of the other speakers.
“I imagine people come to events like these and they hope or expect to hear an inspirational speech, and I wish I had one to offer you,” said Hannah-Jones, who gave the keynote address at Wednesday’s gala, presented by Lifetime, celebrating THR‘s WIE Power 100 list that took place in-person at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. “I’m sorry if this is your first time ever hearing of me or seeing me talk, but people don’t tend to walk away from my talks feeling uplifted.”
The journalist and 1619 Project author, however, did sound a call to action against the growing wave of state laws and proposed policies that would ban ideas associated with the notion that the United States has a legacy of systemic racism.
Several states, under the guise of stopping “critical race theory” — an academic concept featured in some graduate-level college courses — have banned The 1619 Project by name from public schools, along with other works that examine the country’s foundations in ways contrary to the usual history textbook version.
I certainly never imagined one day I would produce a text so dangerous that it is now being banned by name in states such as Georgia, Texas and Florida.
In truth, it is my greatest honor — the Pulitzer Prize means nothing, this is my greatest — because people only ban things they fear will unsettle their power.
We cannot sit idly by and concede our power as storytellers and our power as citizens and the power that we collectively hold.
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