Indiana University, one of the largest and most well-funded public universities in the United States, funneled $55,000 to a left-wing education conference in exchange for exclusive marketing services and exposure, according to a public records request reviewed by The Federalist.
The July conference for educators and administrators was hosted by the nonprofit Indiana Black Expo and had the title “Education Equity: The Role of Schools and Universities in Leveling the Playing Field.” Indiana’s Republican-run government also financially supported the event through grants. It featured two prominent critical race theory (CRT) activists, Dena Simmons and Bettina L. Love, as reported by The Federalist this summer.
Simmons notably told attendees that people should not “let whiteness seep into us,” after making headlines months prior for telling teachers in Illinois they are inherently racist while being paid $175 per minute with public dollars. Love spoke at Indiana’s Black Expo for 85 minutes on the topic “We Gon’ Be Alright, But That Ain’t Alright: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.”
Rolling Out The Red Carpet
Indiana State University, a different government-run institution, spent more than $27,000 to support the CRT conference for educators across the state in exchange for services, according to a prior Freedom of Information Act request. The new documents obtained through the Indiana Access to Public Records Act show IU, Indiana’s flagship state university, exchanged $55,000 for eight different services as the “title sponsor.”
Due to this sponsorship, IU received its name on the masthead of the conference website. Black Expo referred to the controversial event as the “Indiana University Education Conference” and let IU place an advertisement. Likewise, the school had its “name and/or logo” on “all virtual marketing advertising” and obtained “premium signage on virtual platform screens.” All this gave the appearance of government support for the critical race theory-spreading conference.
In addition to being greenlit to provide a two-minute welcome speech to attendees and introduce the keynote speakers, IU administrators, whose salaries are funded by public dollars, gave critical race theory training at the event. Black Expo granted IU the opportunity to host workshops at their conference.
One such workshop was moderated by Monica M. Johnson, assistant vice president for diversity education and cross-cultural engagement for IU. Johnson, who was appointed to her post in September 2020, spoke on “Higher Education’s Role in Advancing Equity.” The talk can be viewed here.
Johnson was joined by four other IU staffers for the panel, including Rachel Ann Brooks. Brooks, the university’s director of diversity and inclusion, discussed the Black Lives Matter riots last summer. She said students “leveraging their voices” and “saying enough is enough” indicates America is at a crossroads. In her view, universities will either “show up or step back “for the left-wing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agenda that encourages treating Americans differently based on the inborn color of their skin.
Another workshop IU headlined was titled “Real Talk? How to Discuss Race, Racism, and Politics in 21st Century American Schools.” Delivered by IU school of education professor Marcus Croom and planned by his left-wing consulting group Brio Education, the workshop is the same title as an August book by Croom.
The public university instructor, who made $39,700 last year from IU according to public records, is no stranger to controversy. On Oct. 10, Croom shared a lecture on Twitter by openly racist and anti-semitic Rev. Al Sharpton with the hashtag “realtalk.” His feed also shows extensive support for CRT czar Nikole Hannah-Jones—the writer behind the ahistorical New York Times “1619 Project.”
While Croom’s Black Expo address has not been made public despite his position and the event being sponsored through government agencies, it is clear where he stands on CRT. He is a major proponent and verbatim uses the term, unlike other proponents who use “diversity” and “equity” lingo for the same thing due to public backlash against such initiatives.
Croom proclaims on his school website that he “generate[s] knowledge through case study and qualitative methods using post-White vindicationist philosophy, practice of race theory (PRT), and race critical practice analysis.” Croom also claimed in a Feb. 2020 paper titled “Meet Me at the Corner: The Intersection of Literacy Instruction and Race for Urban Education” that “[a]fter critical race theory was introduced to the field of education, a number of works advanced our knowledge related to literary instruction and race.”
‘The Berkeley Of the Midwest’
The new information obtained by The Federalist sheds light on how one of America’s major public institutions is advancing the extremist left’s racial agenda despite being ostensibly overseen by Republican lawmakers. Todd Rokita, Indiana’s Republican attorney general, expressed to The Federalist his discontent with IU’s equity initiative and connections with Black Expo.
“Schools can and should teach history accurately, including reflecting on the contributions and struggles of all Americans, from all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds,” Rokita said. “However, committing discrimination in the name of ending discrimination is illegal, and only serves to create a hostile environment that further divides us.”
Rokita’s office, however, declined to comment as to whether it will take any legal action against IU for its potential racial discrimination.
U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who is head of the House Republican Study Committee, told The Federalist Republicans in the state ought to take charge now on opposing CRT. Parents within the state are currently pressing state lawmakers to address the issue in the upcoming January 2022 session.
“Critical race theory is a dangerous and divisive ideology that has no business in any educational setting, let alone our publicly-funded universities,” Banks said. “State legislators should address this funding next session due to the overwhelming Hoosier opposition to these ideas.” The congressmen sent a memo to committee members in June calling for lawmakers to “lean into the culture war” and join the “organic movement” against divisive left-wing dogma.
Still, this is nothing new for IU. According to the school’s website, it has been a “proud supporter” of Black Expo for “more than five decades.” IU also describes on its website how the conference centralized critical race theory. “Planned topics include equity challenges in K-12 and higher education during COVID-19,” said the school.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans in the state will take action to oppose the divisive ideology pushed in the taxpayer-funded Black Expo conference. The Federalist reached out to top lawmakers in the legislature regarding the event but to no avail. The governor has yet to respond to a request for comment.
“IU should not receive one public dollar while they are the ‘Berkeley of the Midwest,” William Ellis, chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party—where IU-Bloomington is located—wrote in an email to The Federalist. “IU’s leftist policies seem to go unchecked time and again, so I have little hope that more than hand-wringing will be done to get IU back to its mission of education as opposed to indoctrination.”
IU did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Black Expo President and CEO Tanya McKenzie. See the contract agreement between IU and Black Expo below.