Nikole Hannah-Jones, this year’s keynote speaker for this year’s BAM Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations, is an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice stories for the New York Times Magazine. Her previous journalism work includes Raleigh News & Observer and The Oregonian.
Ms. Hannah-Jones grew up in Waterloo, Iowa and wrote for the high school newspaper and graduated from West High School in 1994.
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, also known as the Kerner Commission.
From 2008 to 2009, Hannah-Jones received a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies which enabled her to travel to Cuba to study Universal Health Care and Cuba’s educational system under Raul Castro. In 2011, she joined the nonprofit news organization Pro Publica, 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.
Her numerous awards include the National Award for Education Reporting, First Prize, beat reporting; National Association of Black Journalists 2015 Journalist of the Year; George Polk Award for radio reporting and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with Ron Nixon, Corey Johnson and Topher Sanders, launched the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting launched in Memphis, Tennessee in 2016. The organization promotes investigative journalism. And encourages minority journalists to expose injustices in society.
Hannah-Jones received a Bachelor’s degree in History and African-American Studies from the University of Notre Dame in 1998. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a Master’s degree in 2003, where she was a Roy H. Park Fellow.
In 2015, Hannay-Jones became a staff reporter for The New York Times. She is recognized as an authority on topics such as racial segregation, desegregation and re-segregation in American schools and housing discrimination, and has spoken about these issues on National Public Radio broadcasts. She writes to discover and expose the systemic and institutional racism perpetuated by official laws and acts. Her stories have been quoted in numerous other publications as being particularly important regarding race relations. Hannah-Jones reported on the school district where teenager Michael Brown had been shot, one of the “most segregated, impoverished districts in the entire state” of Missouri. Reviewer Laura Moser of Slate magazine praised her report on school re-segregation, which showed how educational inequality may have been a factor in the unfortunate death of Brown.
Hannah-Jones is a 2017 Emerson Fellow at the New America Foundation, where she is working on a book on school segregation. The book, The Problem We All Live With, is due out in June 2020 from Chris Jackson’s One World imprint at Random House.
Hannah-Jones is a 2017 award winner of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Award.”
In early 2015, Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with Ron Nixon, Corey Johnson and Topher Sanders, began dreaming of creating the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. This organization was launched in Memphis, Tennessee in 2016, to promote investigative journalism, which is the least common type of reporting. Following in the footsteps of Ida B. Wells, this society encourages minority journalists to expose injustices perpetuated by the government and defend people who are susceptible to being taken advantage of. This organization was created with much support from the Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.