I still remember where I was the first time I heard the name Nikole Hannah-Jones. I was sitting on a bench outside a tiny airport in the South riveted by her story on an episode of the podcast “This American Life”. It was about school desegregation - a topic she was very familiar with having been a participant in the school desegregation busing program in Iowa as a young student. When it came time to dream about guests for The Next Question, her name was on the top of my list. If you’ve seen that episode, you know what a badass she is. She rattled off dates and ideas from memory with ease, and got us all thinking hard about the state of public education in this country. Towards the very end of our conversation, after the cameras stopped rolling, after we had bonded over bourbon, I asked her why she agreed to come join us. I don’t remember her exact words, but she basically said she wanted to try her best to support other Black women with vision.
I have been following her closely ever since. Not just her career achievements, but how she has stayed so true to herself through much of the public support and vicious scrutiny in the wake of 1619 Project.
But watching her navigate the recent racist and unnecessary tenure debacle at UNC, in which she ultimately chose herself by demanding what she deserved by being offered the tenure, AND THEN turning down the offer to go to Howard U. with Ta-Nehisi Coates was next level. I mean INCREDIBLE.
(You should watch Nikole and Gayle unpack more of this story here)
We stan a queen. For who she is. For what she’s given us. For the ways she moves through the world as herself. For her commitment to our community. For the inspiration she gives all Black women navigating a world not made for us.
I’m so glad Nikole is still here.
A FEW MORE THINGS FOR YOU THIS WEEK…
July’s Article of the Month It Was Never About Busing by Nikole Hannah-Jones (are you sensing a theme yet??)
Question Time - There has been so much attention on Critical Race Theory in schools lately. What points of connection do you see between CRT and Busing? What was your school like - who taught you, who sat in class beside you? How do you think that shaped your own education? Tell us in the comments!
LOVED this Mary J. Blige documentary (and the animation was so beautiful!)
S H O U T O U T to this young (spelling bee) champion!
Rachel’s new book is available for pre-order now. This one’s tough, friends. Miss her.
Last week we had to reschedule our monthly Troublemaker’s Q + A Meeting (paid subscriber’s keep your inbox eyes peeled for a sign up link soon). If you are reading this and would like to switch your subscription to paid - DO IT and you will be on the list for upcoming dates (plus me in your inbox once a week - yay!)
“For too long, powerful people have expected the people they have mistreated and marginalized to sacrifice themselves to make things whole. The burden of working for racial justice is laid on the very people bearing the brunt of the injustice, and not the powerful people who maintain it. I say to you: I refuse.”
- Nikole Hannah-Jones
Stay wild and holy and free,