Nikole Hannah-Jones, a visiting journalist at the Russell Sage Foundation in fall 2017 and a 2017 MacArthur fellow, has been awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. The citation recognizes Jones “for a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.” Jones wrote the leading essay and spearheaded the “1619 Project,” for the New York Times magazine. The project assembled a group of celebrated journalists and writers to author a series of essays, stories, and poems on the African-American experience. 1619 was the year when enslaved Africans were first brought and put to work in the United States. The series of essays, podcasts, and creative works responds to and analyzes this difficult American legacy. The New York Times describes the project as a “major initiative…observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones is a domestic correspondent for the New York Times magazine. When she was a visiting journalist at RSF in fall 2017, Hannah-Jones worked on a book on the history of segregation in American schools. Her extensive print and radio reporting on school segregation, federal failures to enforce the Fair Housing Act, and policing in America has earned a National Magazine Award, a Peabody Award and a Polk Award. Hannah-Jones earned a bachelor's in history and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame and a master's in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.