“People who are much, much smarter than me, who have studied this much, much longer than I have are ringing the alarm,” Hannah-Jones said. “I think we have to ask ourselves … the narrators, the storytellers, the journalists: Are we ringing the alarm in the right way? Are we doing our jobs to try to uphold our democracy?”

Following a year of professional milestones born of her work on America’s history of slavery, Pulitzer Prize-winning Black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones said she is clear-eyed about her mission to force a reckoning around the nation’s self-image, as she tells the AP in this interview.

The New York Times Magazine writer began this year in a protracted tenure fight with her alma mater in North Carolina — the dispute ended when she announced in July that she’d take her talents to a historically Black university — and is closing it as a national best-selling author.

“I’ve gone from being just a journalist to becoming some sort of symbol for people who either love me and my work or revile me and my work,” she said.

Hannah-Jones recently spoke to The Associated Press in an exclusive interview about the ongoing controversy over The 1619 Project, a groundbreaking collection of essays on race that first appeared in a special issue of The New York Times Magazine in 2019. Now in book form, the project has become a touchstone for America’s reckoning over slavery and the reverberations for Black Americans.

“The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story,” and “Born on the Water,” a picture storybook collaboration with co-writer Renée Watson and illustrator Nikkolas Smith, each have spent consecutive weeks atop the Times bestseller list since their Nov. 16 release. A TV documentary on the work is due out later in 2022.

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