An award-winning journalist whose reporting on racial segregation in housing and schools has received wide acclaim will speak this Sunday for an annual Virginia Tech address to kick off the school year.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative reporter who covers racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine, will give the Aims of Education address on Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg. The event is organized by the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston, a community of more than 850 Virginia Tech students of all years and academic disciplines who live together on campus.
The address is open to the public, and it will conclude with an audience question-and-answer period with Hannah-Jones.
The event, now in its seventh year, is meant to inspire the university community to consider the meaning of education. Past speakers have included Dinaw Mengestu, an Ethiopian novelist who writes about the African diaspora in America, and Arun Gandhi, an author and activist and the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
“The key ambition of the Aims of Education address is to remind the students that they are here to stretch their minds,” said Danna Agmon, faculty principal for the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston and an associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. “They are here to be challenged and learn how to challenge the world around them.”
Hannah-Jones brings a unique perspective to Virginia Tech. For much of her journalistic career, she has chronicled ways that U.S. policy is created to maintain racial segregation in education and housing.
From detailing the hunt for a school for her daughter in segregated New York City to chronicling the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the 1968 Fair Housing Act, Hannah-Jones sheds light on deeply personal and timely topics, revealing certain inequities.
Her work has been widely recognized with numerous national awards, including the Peabody Award, the George Polk Award, and the 2015 Journalist of the Year for the National Association of Black Journalists. Last year, Hannah-Jones was one of 24 people across the globe chosen as a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow. She also is writing a book about school segregation, called “The Problem We All Live With.”
Hannah-Jones helped found the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which aims to increase the ranks, retention, and profile of reporters and editors of color in investigative reporting.
“Her reporting demonstrates a profound commitment to justice that I want all of our students to learn from,” Agmon said. “Her visit is a phenomenal learning opportunity for all of us.”
Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone