Ibram X. Kendi, founder of the "anti-racism" movement, which critics say applies critical race theory, will deliver a "keynote plenary" speech at the Virginia Governor's Housing Conference. News of the speech comes as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, whom Gov. Ralph Northam has endorsed, has dismissed concerns about critical race theory as a "racist dog whistle."
The Virginia Governor's Housing Conference (VAGHC) will take place on Nov. 10-12, just over a week after the governor's race ends. Kendi will deliver the keynote speech at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, according to the schedule.
McAuliffe, who faces a stiff election challenge from Republican Glenn Youngkin, has repeatedly dismissed parents' concerns about CRT.
"Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia. Critical race theory has never been taught in Virginia. This is a racist dog whistle, and I hate it," he told CBS News in a recent interview. "Here you and I are talking about an issue that doesn't exist."
Yet parents have claimed that CRT, a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface, influences many aspects of Virginia's government, including education.
Last year, Fairfax County Schools paid Kendi $20,000 to speak to the administration and school leaders about racism for about an hour. Parents Defending Education, an organization of parents that aims to "reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas," published a contract showing that Loudoun County Schools paid more than $300,000 to The Equity Collaborative for "training." The collaborative's training materials begin with an "Intro to Critical Race Theory."
Virginia's Department of Education is promoting a book that says, "Teachers must embrace theories such as critical race theory."
"Elected officials throughout the Commonwealth have repeatedly insisted that critical race theory is not being implemented in the state of Virginia," Nicole Neily, a Virginia mother and president of Parents Defending Education, told Fox News on Thursday. "Unfortunately, significant evidence exists to the contrary."
"Districts such as Fairfax and Loudoun County have presentations and contracts proving that CRT is in schools, while taxpayer funds are being spent on a keynote by Ibram X. Kendi — the high priest of critical race theory — to speak at the Virginia Governor's Housing Conference," Neily added. "Actions speak louder than words — and these contracts underscore a commitment to a theory that many Virginians dislike."
Northam, McAuliffe and the Virginia Governor's Housing Conference did not respond to Fox News' request for comments or clarification, but a spokesman for Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe's Republican opponent, condemned McAuliffe and Northam for using taxpayer money to promote CRT.
"Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam have used taxpayer money to promote critical race theory," Youngkin spokesman Matt Wolking told Fox News. "Virginians are sick of McAuliffe’s divisive political agenda and the chaos it’s causing, and that’s why Republicans, Independents and Democrats are coming together in support of Glenn Youngkin."