Congratulations are in order for Black writers, who are ensuring our history is never erased. Nikole Hannah-Jones and Colson Whitehead were among those awarded Pulitzer Prizes on Monday.
Hannah-Jones was honored with the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for The 1619 Project. Published by The New York Times Magazine, the project details in personal essays and podcasts the journey Black Americans have gone through after they arrived on the shores of what would become the United States of America. Using investigative journalism and primary sources, it displays their experiences in excruciating detail.
Hannah-Jones, who received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” in 2017, accepted the award remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares the Pulitzer title with one of her heroes, Ida B. Wells. The late civil rights icon was honored posthumously for her contributions to the field of journalism.
“Ida B. Wells & I were awarded the Pulitzer on the same day. How can I not believe that the ancestors intervened on this moment,” wrote Hannah-Jones on Twitter.
“I’ll say more later. For now I will sit in the truth of how she, how they, cleared a path for me, how they endured so that I & the #1619Project could be,” she continued.
Whitehead was awarded the fiction prize for the second time. This year it was for his novel The Nickel Boys. Based on the true account of a vicious beating at a reform school in the Jim Crow South, it was named one of Time’s must-read books of 2019.
The author’s achievement makes him the fourth novelist in the award’s history to earn the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for a second book. He earned his first prize for The Underground Railroad in 2017.
According to the Washington Post, he issued a statement on the win through his publisher, Doubleday, calling the win “pretty nuts!”
Whitehead also acknowledged the grave subject matter of his work.
“Obviously I’m very honored and I hope that it raises awareness of the real-life model for the novel— The Dozier School for Boys—so that the victims and their stories are not forgotten,” he concluded.
Congratulations to Hannah-Jones and Whitehead and to the other winners and finalists!