Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the Black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity. Hannah-Jones is the creator and lead writer of the New York Times’ major multimedia initiative, “The 1619 Project.” Named for the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in America, the project features an ongoing series of essays and art on the relationship between slavery and everything from social infrastructure and segregation, to music and sugar—all by Black American authors, activists, journalists, and more. Hannah-Jones wrote the project’s introductory essay, which ran under the powerful headline “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals Were False When They Were Written. Black Americans Have Fought to Make Them True.” The essay earned Hannah-Jones her first Pulitzer Prize, for commentary. Random House has also announced it will be adapting the project into a graphic novel and four publications for young readers, while also releasing an extended version of the original publication, including more essays, fiction, and poetry.
Hannah-Jones has written extensively on the history of racism, school resegregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, as well as the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With, to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House. Her piece “Worlds Apart” in The New York Times Magazine won the National Magazine Award for “journalism that illuminates issues of national importance” as well as the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. In 2016, she was awarded a Peabody Award and George Polk Award for radio reporting for her This American Life story, “The Problem We All Live With.” She was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and was also named to 2019’s The Root 100 as well as Essence’s Woke 100. Her reporting has also won Deadline Club Awards, Online Journalism Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, and the Emerson College President’s Award for Civic Leadership. In February 2020, she was profiled by Essence as part of their Black History Month series, celebrating “the accomplishments made by those in the past, as well as those paving the way for the future.”
Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting with the goal of increasing the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame.
ZZ Packer was born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky. She graduated from Yale, and afterward received degrees from Johns Hopkins and The Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. She has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton, and a Lillian Golay Knafel fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Ploughshares, GRANTA, Zoetrope All-Story, Best American Short Stories 2000, Best American Short Stories 2003 and, most recently, 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories published in 2016.
Her non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, The Believer, The American Prospect, The Oxford American, The Guardian, The New York Times Book Review, Newsweek Digital Online and The New Yorker Online. She has appeared on MSNBC as a Huffington Post contributor.
She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the American Academy of Berlin Prize (postponed). In 2007 GRANTA Magazine named her one of America’s Best Young Novelists. Her collection of stories Drinking Coffee Elsewhere won the Commonwealth First Fiction Award, an ALEX Award and was a National Book Award 5 under 35 winner. It became a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2004, and was selected for the Today Show Book Club by John Updike.