Nikole Hannah-Jones, the writer of the infamous 1619 Project, charged a library $40,000 for a 45-minute speech at a high school in Arlington, Virginia, causing it to go over budget. The high school is just a few miles from Washington, D.C., where she is a tenured professor at Howard University.
Arlington Public Library held a three-hour program in September, where Hannah-Jones was invited to speak, according to Just the News. The event gave her an opportunity to promote her new book, “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story.”
The speech reportedly created tension between “Friends of the Library,” a nonprofit that raises money for these events, and the library itself, which exceeded its budget by $7,500. Hannah-Jones also included a provision in her contract that recording her speech would be prohibited and the library would face a $100,000 fine if that were to be violated.
Diane Kresh, a library official, called the fee “troubling,” calling attention to the $7,500 overage.
“I am certain all of you can appreciate we cannot jeopardize either the County or the Library’s financial standing if bills are not paid,” Kresh said.
Jones first made headlines in August 2019 with the release of her “1619 Project” published in New York Times magazine. The piece was written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves arriving in the then-English colony of Virginia. Hannah-Jones argued that the United States was built on slavery and the right to protect owning slaves.
The project and thesis sparked massive backlash with historians coming to the fore to discredit its historical accuracy.
Michael Chamberlain, with the government watchdog group “Protect the Public’s Trust,” told The Daily Wire that the fee paid to Hannah-Jones for her speech was too high.
“The $40,000 they paid to one particular speaker, which put the program over budget, is an eye-popping amount for a local library to spend on such a controversial figure,” Chamberlain said. “Only Arlington residents can determine the wisdom of this decision, but transparency is a necessary first step for them to make that determination.”