MLK’s close advisor called out CRT for ‘taking us in the wrong direction’

As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy, we remember his fight for civil rights. While much work remains, it is important the fight continues rooted in the tenets that King emphasized: dignity, respect, and most importantly our common humanity. This shared humanity piece is key, particularly as we see critical race theory quickly becoming America’s new institutional orthodoxy.

While King did not explicitly reject CRT, its framework directly contradicts the central conviction he most stood for, and one of his closest friends and advisors understood this and directly spoke out against it.

Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker served as King’s chief of staff, marched with King on Washington, compiled and named King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” among many other key ways he pursued civil rights for all.

He passed away in 2018, but in 2015, he co-authored an essay with Steve Klinsky about education and race. The essay speaks for itself.

Today, too many “remedies” — such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/postmodernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on a spiritual or one-to-one human level — are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even elementary school children into explicit racial groups and emphasizing differences instead of similarities.

The answer is to go deeper than race, deeper than wealth, deeper than ethnic identity, deeper than gender. To teach ourselves to comprehend each person, not as a symbol of a group, but as a unique and special individual within a common context of shared humanity. To go to that fundamental place where we are all simply mortal creatures, seeking to create order, beauty, family, and connection to the world that — on its own — seems to bend too often towards randomness and entropy.

Klinsky, who worked with Dr. Walker in the education reform movement, shared that “Dr. Walker was for a fundamental respect for all people, without regard to their ethnic group or religion or the color of their skin” and that his civil rights views “tie back to religious values, to humanism, to rationalism, to the Enlightenment.” CRT, Klinsky continues, is “planted in entirely different intellectual soil,” such as thinking in terms of “blocs” of people, which Walker made clear is not how we restore and reconcile society.

Dr. King’s dream will not be achieved through CRT’s framework. Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker recognized this, and as Klinsky concludes, “supporters of civil rights should follow the example of Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, and not allow the two incompatible definitions of civil rights — King’s and CRT’s — to be confused with one another.”


(AP file photo) Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.