Recriminations begin in school’s decision to uninvite Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones. Photo (cc) 2018 by Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo.

That didn’t take long. The head of the elite Middlesex School in Concord has taken what is being described as a “leave of absence” just a little more than a week after reports that the school had rescinded a speaking invitation to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times journalist and Howard University professor who created The 1619 Project.

The Boston Globe’s Amanda Kaufman writes that the high-priced prep school is launching an “independent review,” according to a letter to parents from the board of trustees. Noah Kirsch has a good overview of the past week’s contretemps at The Daily Beast.

The Middlesex meltdown came after Hannah-Jones made public that her invitation to speak during Black History Month had been withdrawn. David Beare, the head of school, told the Globe that he and other school officials “were concerned that individuals from outside our community might inadvertently distract from the insights and perspective that she intended to share.”

From the moment Beare made his ill-advised announcement, it was obvious that this would end badly for him. The faculty signed a letter of protest and the trustees objected, including Hannah-Jones’ Times colleague Bret Stephens, a critic of The 1619 Project.

We still don’t know how the decision to uninvite Hannah-Jones came about, and I hope the Globe and others will keep digging.

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