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Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and creator of the 1619 Project, said she was disinvited from speaking at a private boarding school in Massachusetts during Black History Month next February over concerns about how people outside the school might react. Nikole Hannah-Jones was disinvited from speaking at the Middlesex School in Massachusetts over worries about how people outside the school may respond.

Hannah-Jones tweeted Monday that the elite Middlesex School in Concord had canceled her speech and shared a statement saying she had been disinvited over concerns of “noise” associated with her being a speaker. “They were likely afraid that by having me — a [New York Times] journalist & college professor — there, they’d invite backlash & another of the ‘woke’ people are ruining America” stories,” Hannah-Jones tweeted. “I’m good. I’m done fighting my way in. But the lack of courage in these times is so unfortunate.”

This is the reason. I don’t feel “canceled.” I still have a platform; I will continue producing work and speaking where I want. I shrugged. However, I’m confident that we will see many substack &mainstream media stories about this & cancel culture at elite schools. — Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) October 18, 2021


Middlesex School representatives did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment on Wednesday. Still, in a statement to the Boston Globe, the school’s head, David Beare, confirmed that Hannah-Jones had been disinvited to speak at the school. “While we are confident that our students would have valued her insights, we were concerned that individuals from outside our community might inadvertently distract from the insights and perspective that she intended to share,” Beare said, going on to apologize for not reaching out to Hannah-Jones “in a more formal way” about her revoked invitation.

Hannah-Jones told HuffPost on Wednesday that Beare had still not contacted her directly about the decision. Ironically, just days earlier, Beare and Middlesex School’s board of trustees sent a “letter to the community” expressing a commitment toward diversifying the school’s student body and faculty and supporting debate and disagreement. Even when “that discourse may become uncomfortable.” “As an educational institution, we believe an open exchange of viewpoints is vital to student development and intellectual excellence. We believe that respectful debate and disagreement are not only healthy, but the very ground upon which a learning community thrives,” the letter read.

Middlesex School alums have meanwhile expressed disgust and outrage at the decision to cancel Hannah-Jones’ speech, with some telling The Daily Beast that it’s not unusual for the school to suppress Black voices. “Middlesex is a place with much milquetoast racism,” said 2019 graduate Alexandra Jones. “They often censor these kinds of conversations.” Hannah-Jones has faced intense backlash over The 1619 Project, which examines the ongoing legacy of slavery in the U.S. Conservatives accuse the long-form journalism project, first published in The New York Times Magazine before expanding to include a podcast, live events, and school curriculum, of promoting racial divisiveness.

Hannah-Jones’ alma mater, the University of North Carolina, initially refused to grant her tenure as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism earlier this year, reportedly due to political objections to her work presented to the school’s board trustees. After widespread protests, the school reversed its decision, but Hannah-Jones ultimately rejected UNC’s offer and accepted a role at the historically Black school Howard University.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!