Among the 24 new winners of a no-strings-attached prize known as the “Genius Award” is a journalist who focuses on school segregation.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times correspondent focusing on race and urban affairs, will take home $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation. The prizes are meant to free leaders in their fields to innovate.
The foundation said this about Hannah-Jones: “She combines analyses of historical, academic, and policy research with moving personal narratives to bring into sharp relief a problem that many are unwilling to acknowledge still exists and its tragic consequences for African American individuals, families, and communities.”
Here’s how Hannah-Jones reacted on Twitter:
She later added: “Very few things in life leave me speechless. Getting this call did. I’m honored, grateful to have a platform to expose [the] scourge of segregation.” (Hannah-Jones’s Twitter handle is a play on the name Ida B. Wells, the pioneering black journalist whose reporting in the 1890s called attention to lynching — and who inspired the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a group Hannah-Jones created to diversify the investigative reporting field.)
Here are four stories that show how Hannah-Jones is shining a light on school segregation:
2014: “Segregation Now” exposed the resegregation of schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama — a trend that many had observed but few have described in such searing detail.
2014: “School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson” looked at the extreme racial segregation of the schools that Michael Brown attended before he was killed by a police officer.
2016: “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” reflected on the choices that families in New York — including her own — make that can lead to segregated schools. (It also inspired a piece by an educator and father that ran on Chalkbeat.)
2017: “The Resegregation of Jefferson County” is a deeply reported take on how racially motivated school district secessions are contributing to school segregation. (Here’s another take from us, and a graphic one from Vox.)