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*Nikole Hannah-Jones was born on this date in 1976. She is a Black investigative journalist and editor.
Nikole Sheri Hannah-Jones was born in Waterloo, Iowa, to Father Milton Hannah, black, and Mother Cheryl A. Novotny, white. Hannah-Jones is the second of three girls. She was raised Catholic. Hannah-Jones and her sister attended almost all-white schools as part of a voluntary program of desegregation busing. She attended Waterloo West High School, where she wrote for the high school newspaper and graduated in 1994.
After high school, Hannah-Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and African American studies at the University of Notre Dame in 1998. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media with a master's degree in 2003, where she was a Roy H. Park Fellow. In 2006, Hannah-Jones moved to Portland, Oregon, where she wrote for The Oregonian for six years. Her assignments included feature work, demographics, and government and census beats during this time.
In 2007, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1965 Watts riots, Hannah-Jones wrote about its impact on the community for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, Kerner Commission. From 2008 to 2009, Hannah-Jones received a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies and traveled to Cuba to study universal healthcare and Cuba's educational system under Raul Castro. However, the articles carefully censor any mention of poverty amongst Cuba's black community and the lack of civil rights, the disproportionately low number of Afro Cubans in positions of power, or the Castro regime undermining Cuba's black population.
In 2011, she joined the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, where she covered civil rights and continued research she started in Oregon on redlining and in-depth investigative reporting on the lack of enforcement of the Fair Housing Act for minorities. Hannah-Jones also spent time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In April 2015, she became a staff writer for The New York Times. In 2017 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship; in 2020, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work on the controversial 1619 Project.
Hannah-Jones is the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at the Howard University School of Communications, where she also founded the Center for Journalism and Democracy. She became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. In January 2022, Hannah Jones and teacher Sheritta Stokes launched the 1619 Freedom School in Waterloo, Iowa, inspired by the 1960s Freedom Schools of the 20th-century American civil rights movement. The program is a five-day-a-week, 2-hour literacy enrichment for the Waterloo school district for grade-school students.