Charlie Kirk brings “Exposing Critical Racism Tour” to Tuscaloosa

Carson Silas, Contributing Writer

More than 200 people attended conservative activist Charlie Kirk’s speaking event at Hotel Capstone on Wednesday night while a crowd of about 20 students protested outside the venue. 

Kirk visited Tuscaloosa as part of his “Exposing Critical Racism Tour,” which rejects critical race theory. 

Critical race theory is a school of thought that argues that U.S. legal institutions inherently perpetuate discrimination against racial minorities. The theory aims to address how racism and white supremacy maintain social and political inequalities for racial minorities. 

The event was sponsored by the UA chapter of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit founded by Kirk.

Inside Hotel Capstone, tables featured voter registration forms and merchandise reading “Socialism sucks” and “Say no to Critical Hate Theory.”

Nolan Stewart, a Turning Point USA member, said it’s important for both right- and left-wing political actors to speak on campus.

“I think it’s really important that people our age get involved in politics,” Stewart said.

Charlie, a student protester who asked to be identified by their first name only, said Kirk’s event was a source of fear for them. 

“When I heard he was going to be here, my first reaction wasn’t shock or disgust or anger. It was fear,” Charlie said. “Honestly, I was afraid of how this would affect the campus community, whether or not it would embolden people to be more open in their hate.”

Charlie said that it is important to protest controversial political figures.

“We are in critical periods of our development, as college students,” Charlie said. “If we are not willing to take a stand right now when we’re young and hotheaded and have nothing to lose, what are we going to do out in the real world, when people are challenging what we believe in?”

Kirk opened the event by addressing President Joe Biden’s executive order establishing a vaccine mandate for federal workers. He said the Centers for Disease Control and other health organizations are a way of establishing hierarchy between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“Most of these decisions, from a public health perspective, were made without your consent,” Kirk said. “It’s a violation of the consent of the governed.”

Kirk criticized the new employee vaccine mandate instituted by The University of Alabama, calling it unpopular.

Kirk cited the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, saying that around 17,000 deaths were reported after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. VAERS, a reporting system in which almost anyone can report adverse effects of a vaccine, “cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness,” according to the website.

About 222 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 750,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Kirk encouraged those under the mandate’s umbrella to apply for religious and medical exemptions to avoid getting the vaccine.

Half an hour into his speech, Kirk addressed critical race theory.

“Critical race theory seeping into every portion of American life is threatening every single young person’s future,” Kirk said. “It’s saying that things you cannot change are more important than things you can change.”

Near the conclusion of the event, Kirk’s speech diverted to other topics, such as the “emasculation of the American male” and a Washington Post article arguing for the abolition of Greek life.

“[These events] teach us true American values,” said Adam Baranovsky, treasurer and campus coordinator for the UA chapter of Turning Point USA.