GREENVILLE — Members of Concerned Citizens of Eastern North Carolina are voicing their concerns about critical race theory and how to keep it from being taught in schools.

About 30 people attended a July 6 meeting of the group, formerly the Eastern North Carolina Tea Party, to discuss CRT, which critics say is being incorporated into the state’s new social studies standard course of study.

“We have to think about the adverse effect of this kind of indoctrination, brain-washing,” member Elizabeth Weidner said. “They’re taking this down to children that are kindergartners all the way through 12th grade.”

Critical race theory, a movement that suggests “the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica, was introduced by legal scholars in the 1980s. But it has recently become the topic of debate and discussion across the country.

The Pitt County Board of Education had discussions about CRT twice last month, although Pitt County Schools says the theory is not included in the district’s curriculum. North Carolina is among several states that have introduced legislation (House Bill 324) to ban the teaching of critical race theory.

John Woodard, chief executive officer of Real American News, told members of the Concerned Citizens group that he was stunned at what he learned when researching CRT for his website.

“These people are trying to break the American society down and pit group against group, white against black, male against female … children against parents,” he said.

Concerned Citizens member Diane Rufino said CRT is being taught in some school districts despite objections of parents.

“The insidious nature of CRT is the fact that teachers are taking the place of the parents,” Rufino, an attorney and blogger said. “Once the kids are in school, they’re away from the parents, separated from family values, parental rights. … Teachers have the ultimate say in what was taught to the kids.”

Her comments came the same day The Associated Press reported the American Federation of Teachers is preparing litigation and a legal defense against those who try to limit lessons on racism.

Concerned Citizens member Kenneth Jones said parents deserve a say in what is being taught to their children.

“I’m old school. I’m sorry. I’m used to parents and teachers working together,” he said. “What’s going on?”

Jones said that while racism exists, he does not believe that teaching critical race theory is educating students.

“It’s indoctrinating them,” he said. “We should be very angry about it. Push back. … What parents need to do is have school choice or get out of the system or get rid of the system.”

Sandy Smith, who ran in 2020 to represent North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, told fellow members that there are educators who do not support teaching critical race theory in schools.

“There are great teachers that are being forced to teach this in our school systems,” she said. “I get phone calls and letters from them all the time. They’re fearful for their jobs.


“We need to keep that in mind that we are not only fighting for our children, we’re also fighting for our silent teachers that are not able to speak out.”

Woodard, who launched Real American News in 2020 after five decades in the insurance industry, called critical race theory a “Marxist, Leninist” method and said terms like systemic racism reinforce discrimination, stereotypes and scapegoating.

“It is a policy that teaches that whites have been and continue to be oppressors and blacks continue to be victims,” he said. “This scares everybody when they finally wake up and realize their children are being force-fed this garbage.”

Woodard praised the efforts of Sloan Rachmuth, president of Education First Alliance, a conservative, North Carolina-based students’ rights advocacy group. Rachmuth, whose organization opposes schools’ promoting critical race theory, spoke in May to an audience of about 40 people attending “Strong Parent Bootcamp” at Homeplace of Ayden.

For more information about the group, visit facebook.com/ConcernedCitizensofEasternNC.

“She’s really the one who ought to be here, telling you all this,” Woodard said. “I’m 76 years old. I’ve been in politics all my life, practically. I believe that if we don’t get up and fight then we’re going to lose our children and our society.”

Others offered comments that echoed Woodard’s sense of urgency.

“This is not politics as usual, ‘We’ll get them next time if we lose this election,’” said Michael Karachun. “We’re almost out of time. You’d better take this very, very seriously.”

Jones, a pastor, described the battle over what should be taught to children as a spiritual one and said the church should be involved.

“We’ve been so busy saying ‘Oh, we can’t get into politics,’” he said.

“When I was raised back in the ‘50s, the fact is that you had to come to the church in order to run for office. Today we need true men and women who are grounded and rooted in the Judaeo-Christian (beliefs) because without God we have no country.”

William Cratch, a contributor and writer for the website Beaufort County Now, told Concerned Citizens that critical race theory has no scientific basis.

“There’s no math. There’s no logical evidence to back up what they’re saying,” he said.“CRT is nothing new and it is nothing more than modern-day eugenics.”

Cratch urged Concerned Citizens to become involved in politics at the local level in order to stand against the teaching of CRT.

“Are we going to sit back and let our children or anybody else be indoctrinated by the stuff of the occult, Nazism and pure evil? … We are standing on a precipice in more ways than one.”

For more information about the group, visit facebook.com/ConcernedCitizensofEasternNC.

Contact Kim Grizzard at kgrizzard@reflector.com or call 329-9578.