Taxpayers in northern Virginia are reportedly fuming after a local public library wrote a $33,350 check to controversial “1619 Project” author Nikole Hannah-Jones for her upcoming one-hour lecture.
Hannah-Jones, a New York Times Magazine correspondent whose 2019 series “The 1619 Project” espoused the view that slavery was a key driving force behind the American Revolution, is booked to give a talk at McLean Community Center in Fairfax on Feb. 19.
The $555.83-per-minute speaking fee is being paid mostly by the Fairfax County Public Library, which is picking up $29,350 of the $33,350 tab, while the rest will be paid by the community center, according to the Fairfax County Times.
Last month, the Fairfax County Library paid Ibram X. Kendi, the author of books such as “How to Be an Antiracist,” “How to Raise an Antiracist” and “Antiracist Baby,” a speaking fee of $22,500.
Kendi, who is considered a proponent of “critical race theory,” which holds that racial bias is inherent in many parts of Western society, reportedly took part in a virtual discussion.
Fairfax County has been one of the flashpoints in the fierce public debate over whether critical race theory should be taught to schoolchildren.
The combined sum of $55,850 paid to Hannah-Jones and Kendi, which surpasses the annual starting salary of a Fairfax County librarian, prompted local residents to express outrage, particularly after the library was forced to shorten operating hours this past summer due to “ongoing staff recruitment challenges.”
“By my estimates, the Fairfax County Public Library is using over $60,000 in taxpayer funds to host Ibram Kendi and Nikole Hannah-Jones as speakers,” local resident William Denk told the Fairfax County Times.
“I would like to see the Board of Supervisors reach out to Kendi and Hannah-Jones to ask that they return these funds to Fairfax County to help our local homeless population.”
The Post has sought comment from Kendi, Hannah-Jones and the Fairfax County Public Library.
Hannah-Jones will give a talk titled “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” at McLean Community Center’s Alden Theater over Presidents’ Day weekend. The venue boasts a capacity of 383 people.
According to a copy of the contract first obtained by the Fairfax County Times, the library was responsible for footing the bill for Hannah-Jones’ first-class plane ticket for a “non-stop, direct” flight.
The contract also states that “any additional services, appearances, requests or activities” that Hannah-Jones provided and which was not stipulated in the contract “may require additional fees.”
“Library shall not plan any additional appearances or activities” without written consent from Hannah-Jones’ booking agent, the Canada-based firm Lavin Agency, according to the terms of the contract.
Michael Albin, a local resident and member of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, blasted the library for a “misuse of public funds for propaganda programming.”
“Now they’ve upped the ante by paying $33,350 to Nikole Hannah-Jones, not for her ideas, but for her star power,” Albin told the Fairfax County Times.
“For her ideas, you can read her book (at the library!) or go online to read them for free.”
Albin added: “She’s invited to sabotage American history and ideals at a library talk, and when? … get this, on Presidents’ Day weekend, a patriotic national holiday. If that isn’t sabotage of our values, I don’t know what is.”
“The 1619 Project,” which was timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in pre-revolutionary America, debuted on Thursday as a six-part series on the Hulu streaming service.