HAMPTON, Va. (November 8, 2019) –The Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications welcomed New York Times Investigative reporter and creator of the landmark ‘1619 Project’ – Nikole Hannah-Jones to campus as part of the Caldwell Café Lecture Series. Hannah-Jones was able to meet with students, and discuss with a packed audience this important project.
“What an amazing turnout to hear the incredibly talented journalist Ms. Nikole Hannah-Jones speak to our students about our ancestors’ first steps onto the shores of Virginia 400 years ago,” said B. DàVida Plummer, Dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications “We appreciate her speaking candidly about enslaved Africans and hope that audience members were able to take something away from her powerful knowledge.”
After speaking in a journalism classes and meeting with students one-on-one in a roundtable discussion, Hannah-Jones took the stage of the Scripps Howard Auditorium to answer questions from facilitator, student Randall Williams.
“I knew I wanted to come to Hampton University because this is where it all began. Point Comfort in Hampton is one of the places where the enslaved began, where the four parts of enslaved people crossed over the bay at Point Comfort and said that they wanted to be free and were treated as war contraband. Our story has always been a story of people trying to enslave us, and the fight to liberate ourselves,” Hannah-Jones said.
Hannah-Jones has been thinking about the year 1619 since high school. She was exposed to Black history in college and kept asking for more books to continue learning about it.
“I came across a book called ‘Before the Mayflower’ by Lerone Bennett and on page 29 of that book is the first time that I ever saw the year 1619, and I just remember being shook by the fact that every child I knew, knew about the Mayflower and the Mayflower was 1620 and here’s this ship called the White Lion that carried, I would argue, far more momentous cargo than the Mayflower but we had never heard of that date. I knew even as a 16 year old, that there was a reason for that. We were not supposed to know this story. As the 400-year anniversary was approaching, I understood that most Americans had never heard of the year 1619 and just like everything else about the Black experience, that this anniversary would pass without any notice or acknowledgement in most places. Here I am at the New York Times, the largest and most important journalism platform in the world, and I have to do something about it.”
That’s when she pitched the idea for The 1619 Project, which can be found in the August 18, 2019 issue of The New York Times Magazine. The issue includes ten essays, a photo essay, and a collection of poems and fiction by sixteen plus writers.
There were over 200 students, faculty, staff and members of the community in attendance to hear Ms. Hannah-Jones speak.
“I feel like we need to have more events like this when people come to talk about the past, because the past always repeats itself,” said Roderick McLean, senior journalism student from New York.
“I found her to be very interesting. I agreed with her points, especially those that pin pointed slavery and how people are so patriotic to a country that historically doesn’t like us,” said Aminah Muhammad, junior, strategic communications major.
Hannah-Jones is an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine. She has also worked at ProPublica in New York City, where she spent three years chronicling the way official policy created and maintains segregation in housing and schools. Hannah-Jones has a bachelor’s degree in History and African-American Studies from University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For more information about Nikole Hannah-Jones, visit https://nikolehannahjones.com/.