A Michigan community college spent roughly $124,000 – the average cost of tuition for twenty students – to host speeches by left-wing activists, including Nikole Hannah-Jones, according to contracts obtained by The Daily Wire.
The speeches at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), part of a “diversity lecture series,” were made throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. The school spent $25,000 for Hannah-Jones, the founder of the 1619 project, $40,000 for actor John Leguizamo, and $15,000 for a GOP-bashing appearance by Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown — plus more for others.
“People that are fighting against Critical Race Theory [CRT], they don’t even know what it is,” Brown said in her speech. “The bottom line is that it’s not even included in the curriculum.” Brown also claimed she was not mentioning it as a “partisan issue” but criticized Republicans for passing an anti-CRT law in Mississippi.
Her organization, Black Voters Matter Fund, has adopted unpopular stances aligned with the “social justice” movement accelerated during the riots in the summer of 2020. The George Soros-backed group gave roughly $50,000 to bail-fund groups in connection with this unrest, according to its annual report. The group also works on “resisting voter ID” — an election policy that polls have found most Americans do not support.
Hannah-Jones, perhaps the most well-known of the group, has spoken at dozens of campuses in the past year. During her appearance, she lectured on systemic racism, according to the college’s chief equity and inclusion officer, who said prior that GRCC sought a speaker to discuss “intersectionality.”
Leguizamo, who spoke for Latino Heritage Month in September, has called Latinos who support former President Donald Trump “roaches” who suffer from “self-hate.” And Talib Kweli, who rose to stardom in the late 1990s, has said “all Republicans are complicit” in the January 6 Capitol riot led by “white supremacist terrorists.” GRCC spent $18,800 for his April appearance.
Speakers for GRCC’s diversity series did not return requests for comment.
In a statement to The Daily Wire, GRCC defended paying the speakers a combined six figures, noting that a large portion of funds came from partnerships and grants for diversity programming.
“GRCC, and its office of diversity, equity, and inclusion, firmly believes events and training opportunities related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are instrumental in preparing students to be sought-after professionals in a global workforce that is diverse, culturally competent, and in need of rigorous critical thinkers,” a spokesperson said.
But questions remain about the lack of intellectual diversity in the speakers that were chosen.
Matt Seely, a spokesperson for Michigan Conservative Coalition, says schools should provide an alternative perspective when hosting activities of certain political orientations.
Seely sees “universities basically weaponizing their ability to use taxpayer money, student tuition money, and grant money,” and says administrators “do everything they can to stop conservative and religious leaders from speaking on campuses.”
Kara Zupkus, a spokesperson for Young America’s Foundation, agrees with Seely. The conservative nonprofit brings speakers to college campuses through its own funding and often has trouble coordinating with left-wing administrators.
“Unfortunately, we often see the task of bringing conservative viewpoints to campus left to conservative student groups — without whom, these campuses simply would never have an alternative viewpoint to hear from,” Zupkus told The Daily Wire.
GRCC also compensated diversity series speakers at a markedly higher rate than it does for salaried employees, data obtained by The Daily Wire shows. The average salaried employee at the community college earns roughly $83,000 per year.
GRCC has hosted the lecture series for 27 years through its diversity, equity & inclusion office, a spokesperson said. The office pulled in more than $96,000 in donations for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, public records show. Events are free and open to the public.
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