LEESBURG, Va. — There is a war in Loudoun County, Virginia, but no troops are on the ground. Instead, parents and teachers are fighting for the next generation amid a critical race theory clash that has boiled over into a national controversy.
Like-minded community members, with planning help from The Heritage Foundation and Parents Against Critical Race Theory, came together Saturday to sign petitions, wave signs, deliver speeches, and connect with one another for an “Education, Not Indoctrination” rally. Speakers included local parents and teachers, organizers, national activists, and scholars.
The county, which is about an hour outside Washington D.C., is somewhat famous right now. Numerous clips have gone viral of curriculum-infuriated parents at school board meetings. There is an effort to recall six of the nine board members.
Loudoun County Public Schools lurched toward critical race theory in 2019, setting up a reform agenda that in 2020 called for “a racially conscious, identity-affirming and culturally responsive learning space for every student and employee.”
This agenda has taken shape in a school mascot change; a conversation-stifling “diversity council”; a private Facebook group to plot against the opposition; more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds for “equity consultants”; and the firing, then subsequent reinstatement, of a teacher who opposes being forced to call boys girls.
Many Loudouners are against what they see as the indoctrination of their children. A poll of 400 voters obtained by The Federalist last week indicates more locals oppose critical race theory than support it. One parent is Scott Sincavage, a father of two kids. He was never politically active until critical race theory was injected into the local curriculum and the school system forced students to learn remotely.
“I’ve been quiet,” Sincavage told me. “I’ve never been active, not even to the point of coming out to rallies before. So, if I am able to get out here on a Saturday, I’m hoping there are 100 people like me who have decided that it’s time.”
Another protestor is Eugene Delgadio, president of the nonprofit Public Advocate of the United States and a former supervisor on the Loudoun County Board for 16 years. He raised all six of his kids in the area and is not happy with his taxes going toward critical race theory.
“I think they’re teaching children garbage,” Delgadio said in an interview. “We have had supervisors resign. We have had planning commissioners resign. We have had staff resign because of malfeasance, wrongful policies, and terribly misguided actions. In the name of the people, this is what the solution would be. The staff members who have done these acts, they’ve committed these acts against parents.”
Millie Betts, a county resident who is the grandmother of a 21-year-old boy who went through the Loudoun school system, concurred with Sincavage and Delgadio.
“It’s a mess,” she says when asked about critical race theory in northern Virginia. “That’s why we’re here.”
It was a clearly patriotic event, beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance. Those in attendance wore red, white, and blue clothing, Donald Trump hats, National Rifle Association shirts, and Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” shirts. A tent in the back had additional signs for anyone who wanted one.
To the Loudouners, this is about more than just children being taught a certain terminology. It’s about two fundamentally different visions of America: One saying America is infested with systemic racism and implicit bias, the other — backed by the protestors — that people should not be defined and criticized by and for the color of their skin.
There was also a religious aspect to the rally. People bowed their heads in prayer with one another and speakers quoted the Bible. One was Joe Mobley, a parent of four who is involved with the political action committee Fight for Schools. He was a fan favorite.
“What everyone needs to do is Joshua 1:9 — ‘Have I not commanded you to be bold and courageous.'” Mobley said. “I don’t care if you’re a Christian, a Muslim, the flying spaghetti monster people, you need to be bold and courageous. ‘For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ Stop bowing down to the lies. Stop being afraid to get fired. Be afraid to get put in an internment camp. Be afraid of a socialist United States of America.”
Joe Mobley – a parent in Loudoun County – blasts the left for imposing CRT on his children pic.twitter.com/UFcA7e3bBR
— Gabe Kaminsky (@Gabe__Kaminsky) June 12, 2021
Rev. Ralph J. Chittams Sr., another speaker, also sought to appeal to the religious sense of the crowd.
“If you want a biblical standard, you can go back and look at Noah, and if that’s not good enough you can go look back at Adam and Eve,” Chittams said. “We have different cultures, we have different languages, we have different nationalities, but we are one race. So when anyone comes up with anything talking about critical race theory, you understand, just by definition, it’s bunk. It’s nonsense. Now when we get to critical race theory, we need to understand that this is just the latest iteration of what Marxists have been trying to do in this country for decades.”
The event was not without controversy. During Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez’s speech, a woman interrupted and said Loudoun County is “not teaching critical race theory.” Gonzalez rebuked this narrative, telling her the county is, and she walked away.
While the opposing activist retreated, another stayed the entire time. Her name is Liz Barroll and she clutched a sign that elicited eye-rolls from attendees. It read “White Privilege is REAL.”
Barroll came to the rally after learning about it on Facebook. She called it an “overreaction to critical race theory” and says she was “ashamed there was going to be a rally like this.” When asked whether Barroll thinks people should be judged based on race or their individual self, Barroll said, “our identity is a child of God.”
“No, I don’t think that people should be identified by their skin color,” she said. “I do not claim to be an expert on critical race theory. But I have grown to believe that white privilege is a real thing. I mean, this, to me, this is a classic example of white fragility at this rally.”
The protestor was then asked how it could be possible that the rally represents “white fragility” or “white privilege” given that several attendees and speakers were black or people of color. Barroll said the minority protestors “probably do not” have white privilege.
In concluding the event, Ian Prior spoke. The executive director of Fight for Schools, Prior exuded intensity. He paced around the stage and the crowd’s volume rose after each punchline.
“I may be the captain of Fight for Schools, but a captain is nothing without a battalion,” Prior said. “And in my battalion, I’ve got an army of moms that are at this all day, every day. And we got a dad too. So let’s give them a big round of applause. Because they are the energy that is making this thing go.”
— Gabe Kaminsky (@Gabe__Kaminsky) June 12, 2021
“We’re fighting for our freedoms, our children’s freedom for generations in Loudoun County, Virginia,” Prior said near the end of his speech. “We are the shield that will stop this abuse of our children. So it’s up to us. We hear the bell. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican. It doesn’t matter your race, your religion, your sexual orientation. Everyone needs to rally to this cause.”