The University of Minnesota agreed to pay $50,000 to have Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the highly controversial 1619 Project, speak on campus, according to documents obtained by Alpha News.
Hannah-Jones participated in a Dec. 6 “moderated discussion” as part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series.
According to a contract obtained by Alpha News, the university paid Hannah-Jones’ agents $50,000 for her appearance on campus. The contract prohibited the university from recording the live event, which some school officials took issue with.
“Is the no recording item firm? I would like to remove that if possible. I am looking at one of our local news reporters for the moderator, and we’ve had great success with replaying the conversation via Minnesota Public Radio when we use their hosts. This, along with providing the recording to classrooms for instruction and discussion is important to us,” wrote Gail Fridlund, an events manager with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Tom Gagnon, executive vice president of the Lavin Agency, said “that provision is firm” but offered to explain the “good” reasons for the recording prohibition.
“I don’t want folks to think she’s being a diva!” he said in a later email.
The university ultimately agreed to prohibit recording and covered the costs of Hannah-Jones’ travel and lodging expenses.
Just two months before her trip to Minnesota, Hannah-Jones charged a Virginia library $40,000 for a 45-minute speech, The Daily Wire reported.
The 1619 Project was published by The New York Times in August 2019, later earning Hannah-Jones a Pulitzer Prize despite objections from academic historians that her work contained factual errors.
Others took issue with the project’s attempt to completely rewrite American history around the events of 1619, America’s “true founding,” when a group of slaves landed on the nation’s shores.
“Everything that has truly made America exceptional,” according to the 1619 Project, grew “out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required.”
In an article for the project, Hannah-Jones said America’s “founding ideals were false when they were written” and claimed “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”
With the help of the Pulitzer Center, the claims of the 1619 Project are being disseminated to K-12 students across the country.
The University of Minnesota and the Lavin Agency did not respond to requests for comment.