Nikole Hannah-Jones Gives '1619 Project' Critics The MLK Tribute They Deserve

·8-min read

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones managed to give Martin Luther King Jr. the birthday tribute he deserved ― and threw shade at critics of critical race theory in the process.

On Monday, Hannah-Jones, the author of the bestseller “The 1619 Project,” posted a Twitter thread explaining that she was invited to give a speech about King but a small number of members of the group hosting her claimed that her presence dishonored the civil rights icon.

Hannah-Jones decided the best response would be to quote King accurately by reading excerpts of his speeches without mentioning explicitly that they were his words.

“And, whew, chile, it was AMAZING,” she said.

First, Hannah-Jones said that King noted, like her, that 1619 was the year the first Black slaves were brought to America. She also said she purposely used the term “Black” instead of “negro,” as was common in King’s time, to prevent people from making the connection before her big reveal.

Hannah-Jones said the audience didn’t seem comfortable hearing a ringing endorsement toward ending systemic racism and promoting democratic socialism ― and had no idea she was quoting King.

“When I revealed that everything I said to that point was taken from his speeches between ’56 and 67... Can you say SHOOK!” she tweeted.

Hannah-Jones said she then noted all the insulting terms “white Americans” called Dr. King when he was still alive, and just how controversial a figure he was.

Hannah-Jones said she told her audience that the real Dr. King can’t be whitewashed and that “people who oppose today what he stood for back then do not get to be the arbiters of his legacy.”

Hannah-Jones declined to say where the speech was because she said her hosts were “very gracious.” However, she did emphasize that it wasn’t at Northwestern University, where she is giving a speech next week.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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