Besmirching Black History Month with Critical Race Theory


.@NotreDame's Office of Human Resources declares the "founding principles of the nation" to be "slavery, genocide, and settler colonialism." #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

We defer our planned follow-up to our last bulletin on Notre Dame’s “Day for Life” to tell you how the administration, in the course of purportedly celebrating Black History Month, has instead sullied it by embracing Critical Race Theory.

Before describing the particulars of the administration’s action, we relate briefly the history of Black History Month to show how gravely the administration has done violence to its purpose. 

Black History Month 

Black History Month has a rich history grounded in the pioneering work of legendary African American historian Carter G. Woodson.

Woodson established Black History Month’s predecessor, Negro History Week, in 1926. He chose February of that year to coincide with the birthdays of Frederic Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. His goal was to secure the inclusion of the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the teaching of the greater American experience, a subject notably absent from standard textbooks at that time.

In 1976, expanding on Woodson’s mission, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month “to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since then, every American president has declared February Black History Month “to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society — from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more.”

And each year, the President has endorsed a particular theme. This year, it is “Black Health and Wellness” to mark “the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners” and, more broadly, the measures “that Black communities have done to be well.” 

Black History Month at Notre Dame

In announcing Black History Month at Notre Dame, the university recognized its purpose is “to honor the achievements, history and experience of black Americans as well as the contributions Black Americans have made to U.S. history” and invited students to participate in a number of events suited to that purpose.

But then came a stunning event announcement in which the Office of Human Resources in the Office of the Executive Vice President embraced Critical Race Theory and declared “the founding principles of the nation” to be “slavery, genocide, and settler colonialism” and the nation to be “in the grip of white supremacy.”

The full statement was this:

The Current Moment is Not New – We’ve Been Here for a Long Time: Critical Race Theory and the Attack on the Historical Record.

Where many were surprised at the events of Jan 6, 2021, many in the United States understand that it is only reflective of the unspoken founding principles of the nation: slavery, genocide, and settler colonialism. Given the current attacks on the inclusion of critical inquiry in K-12 schools, we are uniquely positioned in a moment where we will choose to capitulate to the grip of white supremacy or fight to build new worlds and new understandings.

We hope you join us for our virtual Black History Month Virtual Lunch & Learn with David Stovall, Ph.D.

We are told Dr. Stovall’s talk will probably not be available on the Human Resources website but will be posted on YouTube, but it is not there yet.

No matter. The important question is that Notre Dame evidently expected Dr. Stovall to affirm its declaration, and that was an eminently reasonable assumption. 

Dr. Stovall, a “national expert in Critical Race Theory” is a professor of Black Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago who frequently advances in various venues his conviction that the United States has been fundamentally corrupted from the start by racism and capitalism.

Taking but one speech as an example, consider these assertions by Dr. Stovall:

  • The United States is “a land founded in slavery, genocide, and colonization.”
  • The country suffers from “the three pandemics of white supremacy, capitalism, and Covid-19.”
  • Universities have had a “historical exploitative colonial relationship with communities of color.”

And, in a passage descriptive of most Notre Dame families, 

  • “White supremacy is a totalizing system that is based on the assumed beliefs, views, and values of the white, western European cisgender heterosexual able-bodied Christian males.

If you find it hard to believe that any Notre Dame administrative office, much less the Office of the Executive Vice President, would press upon students this sort of radical historical revisionism and angry woke sociology, so did we. At the same time, it was at least as hard for us to believe that subordinates – presumably the staffs of the “Institutional Equity” or “Staff Diversity and Inclusion” offices with no evident competence in any relevant discipline – would go rogue on such radioactive issues. 

Accordingly, Bill Dempsey wrote the Executive Vice President, Shannon Cullinan, “to make sure before we publish anything that you were informed of the Black History Month declaration by your Human Resources Office that ‘the founding principles of the nation’ are ‘slavery, genocide, and settler colonialism’ and that the nation is ‘in the grip of white supremacy.'”

While, Bill wrote, “[I]t is hard to imagine subordinates unilaterally promoting to students such a radical revision of the historical record,” 

If in fact you were not informed and do not concur, I assume you will repudiate the statement and cancel the program. As always, we will be glad to publish any comment you wish to make

Mr. Cullinan did not reply.

The event went ahead.

The notice stands even now that the event is over. 


This full-throated embrace of Critical Race Theory under the aegis of high Notre Dame administration authority almost surely originated in “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” staff and is testimony to the burgeoning influence of that program and that staff. We have often said that the culture of the university will in the end reflect the dominant culture of the faculty, but that observation is increasingly put in doubt by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion juggernaut, which is burying historical truth and undermining traditional Christian values respecting sex, gender, marriage and family. We will surely be obliged to return to this phenomenon often. 

A Call for Alumni of Catholic Colleges & Universities

If you are concerned about the Catholic identity of your alma mater and would like to discuss organizing an alumni group like Sycamore or if you are involved with something similar already, please get in touch with us by filling out the form below. Just as efforts to undermine Catholic identity on campuses across the nation have increased in number and coordination, we believe that so, too, should the fight for Catholic identity.


Leave a Reply

 Let us know what you think about the issues we’ve raised in this bulletin in the comments below. And help to spread the word by sharing this bulletin with others who care about Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. 

Every Penny Helps!

If you are like us and want to see an authentic Catholic renewal at Notre Dame, please consider lending a hand by making a donation to Sycamore Trust.


25 Responses to “Besmirching Black History Month with Critical Race Theory”

  1. 675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

    As The Veil is being lifted, A Great Apostasy is being exposed, which in denying The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, makes it appear as if it is possible to have Sacrament Communion without Ecclesial Communion.

    “If there is a union of a private nature, there is neither a third party, nor is society affected.”

    This statement cannot be true, for our Call to Holiness, has always been a Call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds, as we desire to be “Temples For The Holy Ghost”, and thus Christ dwells within us.

    Prayers that The Administration Of Our Lady’s University, and all of us will witness, soon ,The Triumph Of Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart as we “Make Straight The Way Of The Lord”.

  2. Riely, ND 1981 March 1, 2022 at 8:24 am

    Mr. Dueby poses an enticing question. Is that Jenkins’ motivation–securing ND’s place among the academic elite–in going so completely off the rails from fundamental church teachings? The man purports to be a Catholic priest and willingly signed up for all that that entails. To reject so consistently the teachings as he does and to consistently embrace the woke agenda as a priest and denigrate the generations of Domers who built the place suggests to me he is a disordered and profoundly unhappy man. Jenkins and his minions now suggest, both directly and obtusely, the US is a bastion of white privilege. While this is unbelievably insulting on every level and is categorically wrong, my comment closes by circling back to Mr. Dueby and asking if Catholic teaching precludes ND from reaching the top echelon of the academic world, why does not Jenkins go on record and let all Domers, past, present and future, know that Catholicism is an albatross around ND’s neck from attaining its aspirations and that BLM, LGBTQ, gender fluidity and the woke agenda are more worthy institutional guides for ND than that of Catholic dogma.

  3. Looking at the big picture, we would not be having this debate were it not for the fact that Fr. Jenkins views ND’s Catholic character as an impediment to his goal of having her accepted as a truly elite university (as noted in an earlier comment) – and vaguely embarrassing. This in my view is why we are seeing so many manifestations of wokeness, many/most of which contradict Catholic theology and doctrine – at least in part.

  4. Alfred (Fred) Gade '60 February 27, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    I guess we have to spell it out for you Greg. CRT and American slavery have nothing to do with the founding of Notre Dame in the Free State of Indiana in the 1840s. However, early Colonial America, and its anti-Catholic attitude and policies that lingered, had a lot to do with Notre Dame and its founding. Historically, the University has done its part in dispelling anti-Catholicism in our country. However, Leftists today would like nothing better then to bring about a new anti-Catholicism with the denial of Catholics rights to U.S. Constitutional Freedom of Speech and Religion. They call us bigots for believing in God, Country and Notre Dame.

    Enough said, liberals like you when you don’t have the facts, always attack the messengers

  5. Your article condemns Critical Race Theory a priori. You would better serve your audience by educating on what exactly Critical Race Theory is. Both pro and con. The comments posted so far that I have read indicate responders have no idea what Critical Race Theory means. Perhaps they do not want to know. Perhaps their minds are already made up. A University by its nature is open to dialogue and discussion of various viewpoints. To condemn any viewpoint a priori is contrary to the nature of a University (Catholic or not). One example from your article, that the USA was founded on slavery. That is objectively true in at least the sense that slaves were a part of the structure that our country lived with and emerged from, and from our founding documents as slaves were counted as less than persons. That is clearly contrary to Catholic teaching. It might be uncomfortable to recognize and deal with, historically, but that does not mean we should dismiss it a priori as part of the founding context for our country. Please, if you really want to serve the University you profess to care about, be honest and open a dialogue. Do not simply dismiss Critical Race Theory a priori as if it is inherently evil or wrong. Educate your audience. Goodness knows they need it.

    • Certainly a university is a forum for the exploration of all sides of significant issues, and if Dr. Stovall had been invited to provide his views by the History Department and another speaker to present opposing views on Critical Race Theory it would have served students well. But this is the administration speaking for itself in declaring that “the”—not “some” — “founding principles” of the nation were “slavery, genocide, and settler colonization” and that the nation is “in the grip” of “white supremacy.” And rather than inviting a speaker to present a contrasting view, it put on a speaker on record of upping the ante by condemning capitalism and “values of the white, western European cisgender heterosexual able-bodied Christian males.” Surely Notre Dame alumni are sufficiently informed to form their own judgments about this episode without disquisition by us about the various versions of Critical Race Theory.

    • Christ Has Revealed Through His Life, His Passion, And His Death On The Cross, that our Call to Holiness has always been a Call to be Chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds, as we desire to be, through our acceptance of Salvational Love, God’s Infinite Gift Of Grace And Mercy, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Temples Of God’s Holy Spirit.

      Thus we can know through both Faith and reason that combining the essence of racism with views respecting sex and gender, that are in essence, contrary to Church teaching, serves not only to distract one from the sin of racism, but illuminates an erroneous notion that the essence of gender can serve to deny the essence of being a beloved son or daughter, and thus our call to Holiness must be “besmirched”, if we are to address the sin of racism.

      In this respect, we can know through both Faith and reason, that slavery, abortion, and reordering persons according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, are all cut from the same cloth, the denial of the inherent Complementary but Equal Dignity of being, from the moment of our conception, a beloved son or daughter, in order to justify the engaging in of acts that demean our inherent Complementary but Equal Dignity, that comes from our having been Created In The Image Of God, The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, with an Intellect and a Will, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed By God, worthy of Redemption, to live in Loving relationship in communion with God, until that final moment, when hopefully, we will be Perfected In Christ.

  6. It would greatly help your argument if you presented objective information about Critical Race Theory. Both pro and con. Your failure to do that does not help educate your audience to the issues at hand. Your article assumes Critical Race Theory is bad without any supporting evidence. Your article suggests that slavery was not a founding issue of our country. Then why were slaves not considered full persons in our founding documents? Please do more work on this before you lambast the University about an issue you have not fully explored here. Thank you.

  7. Daniel Patrick Mitchell February 26, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    As Notre Dame Graduates we need to fight, fight, fight with energy all the political woke society that is being transmitted to the youth of America, as what it is: an evil brain changing poison delivered by committed atheist socialists, who are committed to ending the American legacy of in “God we Trust”. For Notre Dame People, of any position, to fall for this poison is amazing. Remember though Germany, Prior to Hitler was either Catholic or Lutheran, people’s brains can be poisoned. Joseph Goebbels said a lie told often will be believed as truth. Pray the Rosary.

  8. I recently read an old op ed that pointed out the failure of scholars and limited educated men and women to identify the “mask” of civility the wreckers of Civilization wear. A PHD assignment to any person; does not make their rhetoric truth, nor does allowing that rhetoric a platform make it any less reckless. Stop listening and creating a storm of challenges. Take heart and carry truth to those who will listen lest we lose all of those we hope will carry the truth of Catholic Faith to the next generation. May a God of Charity look upon us

  9. Some persons in the University’s employ seem committed to further their deliberate striving for absurd irrelevance. This particular move impresses me as a major achievement in that pursuit.

    Not only do University’s officials hereby besmirch the Church by this association with a Marxist/anti-family thesis. They also further the rejection of America’s historic endeavors to remedy its mistakes and right its own wrongs, as the Constitution and Bill of Rights make eminently clear. Notre Dame seems intent on its own errant path, morally and culturally.

  10. I would be less concerned for ND’s future as a University if a genuine rebuttal were allowed. However, as its aspiration to be “just like Duke or Stanford” continues to force a clumsy tacking to the far left, much is lost in terms of ND’s own history, character and unique basis for being a source of truth in the world.

  11. It strikes me that there are two root causes of our Mother’s university straying from her mission…
    The first obviously is the leadership of the current president.
    The second and perhaps not so obvious is the Board of Trustees.
    I need to educate myself on the process by which board members are selected, and I need to delve into the background of the current board members to see if Notre Dame’s traditional mission is being subverted.

  12. I didn’t realize DEI and CRT were contrary to Church teaching. I appreciate what Sycamore does to advance Church teaching and cal out ND when she strays in areas of sexuality. I think Sycamore strays here

    • It is a valid question that I am pleased to have the opportunity to answer, if briefly. DEI could, of course, advance the Catholic character of Notre Dame, but as put into effect it undermines Catholic teaching on sex. gender, and marriage, as we will continue to show. I think it far the gravest threat to the university’s Catholic identity I have seen over the past 16 years. As to CRT, since racism is sinful and so is fabrication in teaching on moral issues, Notre Dame’s embrace of the most radical CRT views respecting racism bears importantly on its Catholic character in its central role as teacher. More, as we noted, CRT advocates such as Dr. Stovall combine racism with views respecting sex and gender contrary to Church teaching. ““White supremacy is a totalizing system that is based on the assumed beliefs, views, and values of the white, western European cisgender heterosexual able-bodied Christian males.” As we will show in future bulletins, this blending of issues of racism and sex and gender is true as well of the Black Lives Matter national organization, which is relevant to the extent BLM has made a mark at Notre Dame. To be continued —

  13. william dotterweich February 26, 2022 at 9:58 am

    Only prayer can extricate our beloved Notre Dame from the ravages of the present administration.

  14. In addition to the Sycamore Trust and the Irish Rover, I have begun contributing to the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I have not contributed to ND (or attended a football game) since the Barack Obama commencement speech debacle. I’m afraid that on its current path, ND will wind up being no better than Georgetown or any other of a number of Jesuit colleges and universities – virtually secular.

  15. Defund the HR department. Not just ND’s but ever place they exist.

  16. Eugene Dixon 69 MBA February 26, 2022 at 8:35 am

    Notre Dame has ceased to be a University of higher learning promoting intellectual curiosity. Instead, it is merely an expensive political indoctrination center undeserving of university status.

  17. Frank Cecil Mashuda February 26, 2022 at 8:17 am

    As I faced the prospects of serving in Viet Nam, I remember looking up at the engraved words above the side entrance door that said “God, country, and Notre Dame”. These words inspired me and have guided me throughout my whole life. Now I am told they are a lie by these pagans running the school. I suggest they remove these words from the church entrance and change the school’s name to something more appropriate, like the Karl Marx University of America. At least, it would not sully Our Lady’s name and they could not exploit economically their Catholic “brand”.

  18. Alfred (Fred) Gade '60 February 26, 2022 at 6:23 am

    Teaching the CRT lie is a sure fire way to avoid the subject of the loss of our Catholic identity at Notre Dame. I believe the University was founded by a French priest and a bunch of Irish Catholic brothers sent to the Free State of Indiana in the 1840s by the CSC Catholic Order. The idea of the University was to teach and preserve our Catholic heritage, along with educating its students. It was to be a force for Good in the wilderness and wildness of a new nation. A UNIVERSITY in the wilds of Indian territory. Since Slavery was never allowed in the region (Indiana even as a Territory), I see little or no reason to blame ND for its founding and purpose. Instead, the early colonial governments originally had no use for Catholics and didn’t want them around. Now that is something to worry about. Good thing we grew up as a nation, freeing ourselves from many of the sins of the past. Why dwell on those bygone sins now?

  19. Leo Patrick Callaghan '55 February 25, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    The University is beyond incompetence or foolishness. I will wear a black arm band in its memory.

  20. Leo Patrick Callaghan February 25, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Are we so far into the fantasy of the New America? God help us all . It is in his hands

  21. DEI= Don’t ever invest in ND. Instead invest in full page ads in The NY Times and WSJ to instruct the alumni what is happening.

  22. Any school that promotes this kind of foolishness is undeserving of our continuing financial support. The only thing that might get their attention is if a significant number of us stop sending them money.

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