During its monthslong debate over bringing in 1619 Project writer Nikole Hannah-Jones as a tenured professor, donors slammed the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for allowing "Marxism" to take root at the school, emails obtained by Fox News show.
Hannah-Jones, the lead writer of The New York Times’ 1619 Project and a UNC alumna, was initially offered a multi-year position to join the university’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, but consideration of her tenure was delayed following backlash from conservatives who take issue with the 1619 Project’s aim to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative."
The decision sparked a backlash on the left as well, and the school’s board of trustees eventually voted in favor of granting her tenure. On June 22, the Pulitzer-winning journalist turned down the job and took a tenured position at Howard University instead.
The UNC emails, obtained by Fox News, include a range of discussions on various aspects of the saga. In September of last year, two "long time" donors sent an email to Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Stevens saying they had withdrawn planned deferred gifts and were reassessing their relationship with the university, accusing it of aligning with the Black Lives Matter movement, "a self-proclaimed Marxist organization."
"How has the Board allowed Marxism to take root at UNC?" the donors asked. "Is that the answer to alleviating structural racism and white supremacy? What do we make of the pursuit of equality through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion? Social, racial and economic equality outcomes, as informed by the Office, can only be achieved through totalitarian initiatives. And that is exactly how the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is structured; to exercise control over thought and actions, and to marginalize disfavored groups. The University has chosen indoctrination over independent thought. Individual liberty has been suppressed to the benefit of collectivism."
In an earlier email to multiple board members, the donors said Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project was debunked.
An email to Susan King, dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, by another donor who identified as a "proud Tar Heel," said Hannah-Jones' 1619 Project "is not considered objective and accurate by many experts," citing a 2019 letter published in The New York Times by several historians who accused the project of putting ideology before historical understanding.
The New York Times initially defended the project but later issued an update saying protecting slavery was a primary motivation for "some" of the colonists during the American Revolution, instead of a universally held belief.
In the email, the writer lamented that the university had become "extremely liberal" since he graduated decades earlier.
"Each time I've visited the Journalism School's lobby only CNN has been on the large screen. I have not viewed Bloomberg News, MSNBC, CNBC, HLN or Fox. A few years ago, Brooke Baldwin (a highly touted UNC Grad and commencement speaker) has on many occasions shown a lack of objectivity in her presentations on CNN. I realize that CNN is really the broadcast arm of the Democrat Party."
Another self-identified alumna, in an email to the chancellor’s office, said she and other alumni were "not pleased" with the university’s promotion of Hannah-Jones and her project.
"Debate and discussion of controversial issues is fine," she wrote. "Large-scale promotion and endorsement of a debunked, revisionist ‘history’/opinion piece by a major university is not. By its actions, UNC insulted patriotic Americans of all races and political affiliations. This was just one of many examples of far-left ideology indicative of UNC's lack of intellectual diversity on campus, the real diversity missing in Chapel Hill."
For her part, Hannah-Jones said she turned down the position at UNC because she felt like she was being discriminated against as a Black woman.
"I wanted to send a powerful message, or what I hope to be a powerful message, that we’re often treated like we should be lucky that these institutions let us in," she said last month. "But we don’t have to go to those institutions if we don’t want to."