Nikole Hannah-Jones is said to have retained legal counsel in the battle over the UNC-Chapel Hill and its Board of Trustees’ failure to give her tenure. In a statement released by her Thursday, May 27, Hannah-Jones will be represented jointly by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Levy Ratner, P.C., and Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A.
She is taking the step “to ensure the academic and journalistic freedom of Black writers is protected to the full extent of the law and to seek redress for the University of North Carolina’s adverse actions against me.” The potential lawsuit comes as Hannah-Jones has sparked national controversy over the past week. Conservative politicians have decried the efforts to grant her tenure as UNC’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project, released a letter via her attorney Levy Ratner, saying, “(We) represent Nikole Hannah-Jones in connection with the failure of the Board of Trustees to consider and approve her application for tenure as part of her appointment as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
Hannah-Jones’ legal team is evaluating her options moving forward.
“We are evaluating all available legal recourse to fully vindicate Ms. Hannah-Jones’ rights, including possibly initiating a federal action against UNC, the Board and/or affiliated entities and individuals,” the letter said.
Addressed to North Carolina lawmakers, the letter also states their legal duties to preserve and maintain any and all documents and data pertaining to Hannah-Jones’ potential claims.
The decision to not ensure Hannah-Jones’s tenure sparked controversy in the UNC community, with many students, faculty and alumni rallying in her support.