Exclusive — Gov. Pete Ricketts: Critical Race Theory Is About ‘Resegregation’; ‘A Betrayal of the Civil Rights Movement’

Nebraska Gov. Pete Rickets speaks during a news conference in Lincoln, Neb., Monday, Jan.
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

As leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is trying to implement critical race theory “into every corner of campus,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) spoke to Breitbart News about why the ideology is so harmful and how conservatives can fight it in his state and nationwide.

“Critical race theory is talking about resegregation,” Ricketts told Breitbart News. “It is talking about discriminating his people based upon their skin color. It is a betrayal of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, who wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

The Nebraska Republican recently uncovered a plan by UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green to use critical race theory as a means to implement “racially motivated hiring practices [and] harmful trainings” that will “pit people against each other by conditioning everyone to see others through the lens of race rather than as individuals with unique strengths,” as Ricketts detailed in a November 18 press release about the issue.

And while Green denies his “Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity” plan utilizes the ideology, Ricketts pointed out to Breitbart News that “while the University has repeatedly denied that their plan includes critical race theory, their own records reveal that the consultant behind their efforts is a critical race theorist.”

The governor also said that “anti-racism is critical race theory.” As Breitbart News has reported, given the emergence of critical race theory as a major political issue, institutions who wish to implement it may surreptitiously refer to it by other means, or camouflage it behind phrases like “culturally responsive teaching” — which uses the same CRT acronym — “culturally competent,” “anti-racist,” and “equity.”

Ricketts said Green “misled” him and university stakeholders, at one point telling them that the governor supported the plan. But Ricketts assured that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

While Green eventually apologized “for not fully engaging [the Board of Regents] in the development of our Commitment to Action prior to it being rolled out,” Ricketts told Breitbart News that Green intends to charge forward with the plan anyway.

“It really is a program that is anti-American,” Ricketts said, continuing to explain that the goal was to “create more activists” in order to “undermine traditional American values.”

“Specifically in UNL’s plan, they talk about making students activists, and they are very specific about training students to be activists on critical race theory,” he said. While they do not use the term critical race theory Ricketts explained, “They talk specifically about turning students into activists, specifically targeting the police department. … So, it’s very blatant in UNL’s plans they’re talking about creating more activists.”

As Breitbart News reported, a mission statement for UNL’s policy references a “perpetual state of ‘action,’ saying, ‘Any set of actions will not reflect all of the work that must be done to dismantle racism, but it provides a starting point identified by many stakeholders across the institution.'”

To “embark on a Journey For Anti-Racism and Racial Equity,” the UNL call to action promised to “[utilize critical race theorist] Ibram Kendi’s definition on becoming ‘actively conscious about race and racism’ and taking ‘actions to end racial inequities.’”

“And that’s just part of how they are pushing forward their agenda, this radical, progressive, left-wing agenda of undermining our values as Americans … and that’s why they don’t ever want to give up on this,” Ricketts said.

One goal of that agenda is implementing Marxism in the United States, Ricketts maintained, saying it was no longer “theoretical” and that the movement is not restricted to universities.

“The King County Library System having segregated training sessions. Literally, you’ve got resegregation — separating people out by their skin color for training sessions,” he said as one example.

“You can see it in some of the defense contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin,” he continued. “You can see it at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. … This is not something that they’re talking about theoretically in a classroom like Marxism. We discussed Marxism in our classrooms. But they’re now saying, ‘Well, now I’m going to take this and I’m going to implement it, I’m going to bring it into the mainstream.'”

Ricketts said that critical race theory is something that has been “creeping in,” including in the Nebraska Department of Education, which is made up of a separately-elected board that does not report to the governor. He told Breitbart News that he has “called them out” on their usage of the widely debunked New York Times “1619 Project,” the communist pseudo-history pushed by the Zinn Education Project, and their sexual education standards based in “gender ideology.”

Citing a case in Loudoun County, Virginia, where it appears the passage of a transgender policy motivated the school board there to cover up a rape of a student, Ricketts said the pervasiveness of the gender ideology is such that the school “allowed a boy to dress up in a skirt and go have access to a girls locker room and then that’s where he committed a sexual assault. Nobody thinks that’s a good idea except the far-left progressive radicals.”

Ultimately, however, the only way to change the trajectory of education in Nebraska and the country is by challenging school board members at the ballot box. “To change the policy, you have to change people,” Ricketts said, but that can first require educating parents and the public about what is going in schools.

“Whether it’s the sex education standards that includes gender ideology, or it’s this critical race theory,” the governor explained, “parents are seeing what their kids are being taught, and they’re really waking up to this and finding out what the curriculum is, going to those school board meetings, and basically throwing a fit, saying, ‘This is not what we want out kids being taught.’ And the left-wing radicals are pushing back saying, ‘Parents don’t have any say with their kids are being taught.'”

One thing Ricketts said has helped people wake up is “what reporters have done to highlight” the issue, but the governor told Breitbart News he took it a step further.

“I went around the state and did, I think, a dozen townhalls, talking to parents about what was actually in the sex education standards, talk about the gender ideology, this was some crazy stuff: teaching 12-year-olds about anal and oral sex, it really was sexualization of our children,” Ricketts said, explaining that learning what their children were being taught in school motivated them to get involved.

“So we really kind of exercised my ability to use the bully pulpit to get people educated about it so that the parents would take action,” he said. “And that’s where we put the pressure on the state board to stop their program.”

“When I went around to educate parents, they were the ones to attend the school board meetings by the hundreds, thousands of phone calls and emails and letters went to the State Board of Education,” he continued. “And they got the State Board of Education to table their sex education standards.”

“Those standards are not dead,” Ricketts said, however, explaining how important elections are to the education issue. “The same members are still there, and if they’re still there after November of 2022, if not before, they’ll come back and bring it back. So that’s why it’s important that parents go to school board meetings.”

But the governor explained that is only a “short-term way to stop some of” the policies. “The long-term way,” he maintained, “is to have parents run for office, find good candidates that are going to replace those members. And in our case, the State Board of Education, we need to run people against those incumbents and replace them with people who are going to be in line with what the parents think their kids should be taught.”

“The right the school board members may slow down a policy, or really take out some of the inflammatory words,” he continued, “but to make real change, we have to replace those people on the school board with people who believe the parents are responsible for a kid’s education.”

One key to success, Ricketts said, is that Republicans need to “own this issue,” explaining that the party “could have done a better job in the past with regard to education.”

“We are right. … We’re on the side of parents,” he said, citing the success of the education issue in the election of Virginia Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin. “We think parents should be the primary people responsible for raising their kids’ education.”

To see wins like Youngkin’s, Ricketts told Breitbart News, Republicans “need to really get involved in the education issue in ways that we have not been in the past.”

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.


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