The Soultown! Volume III: Issue 10 OCTOBER 2019 - Page 7

WHAT’S REALLY GOOD? WATERLOO, IA - Hearing noted New York Times investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones deliver UNI’s Constitution Day Address on Monday, September 16 was a revelation. She spoke openly and honestly on the topic “Separate and Unequal” at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, laying bare many truths about America’s historic disregard for the role slavery played in this nation’s development — information that many of us either did not know or were not comfortable acknowledging. Hannah-Jones talked about her thought-provoking initiative, The 1619 Project, which presents an honest and more inclusive narrative of American history. Supported by facts and research, Hannah-Jones traces a time line that reveals brutality and human rights violations that have plagued this country since before its inception. She asserts that revealing and acknowledging what has been omitted from our history will help address the inequity that prevents this nation from living up to its ideals. It was a pleasure listening to the clear connections she made between past inequity and present injustice as she engaged the capacity audience. It was even more pleasant meeting her at an informal gathering the evening before her UNI presentation and seeing that, while she is accomplished, nationally-recognized, and — yes, famous — she is also a woman of the people. Surrounded by classmates and friends with whom she’d grown up in Waterloo, she was in her element sharing food, drinks, laughter, and the trash-talking that accompanied a friendly game of spades. In that setting, she wasn’t the famous writer who describes herself as “the Beyonce of journalism” and who has appeared on several nationally-syndicated shows including CBS This Morning, The Breakfast Club, and VICE; she was just Nikole. Graciously, she even stepped away from her limited relaxation time to do a brief interview with me and Joshalyn Johnson for the “Ms. Rocki n Chaveevah LIVE!” show. More than her numerous awards including the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Award’, it is the content and straightforwardness of her work that garners respect. As a reporter with the New York Times, her investigative writing has focused on racism and racial injustice and in the tradition of Ida B. Wells, Hannah-Jones’ work compels society to look at things it has grown accustomed to ignoring. Her journalistic achievements are notable in a society that marginalizes Black people in general and Black women in particular. Nikole co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, with the idea of training and mentoring other Black women in the field of investigative journalism. The 1619 Project is outstanding, as it not only commemorates the 400 years since slavery began in this country; it also provides an unflinching, realistic look at our history rather than an idealized version that conceals far more than it reveals. The 1619 Project may be accessed at the New York Times website. Also, a 1619 Project podcast series and 1619 Project curriculum are available online for educators and anyone else interested in challenging, reshaping and broadening our view of history and African Americans’ contributions to this society. I am Chaveevah Ferguson, I thank Nikole Hannah-Jones for having SOUL! , CHAVEEVAH FERGUSON What’s Really Good? _______________ Learn more about Chaveevah Ferguson at what-s-really-good-.html Email Me: Oct. 2019 • The Soultown International Magazine • Celebrating 2 years • Connecting Our Cultures to Our Cyber & Conscious Communities • 7