This past weekend, I spoke for the second time at the second annual Black Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by Turning Point USA. Turning Point was founded in 2012 by then-18-year-old Charlie Kirk. Its website describes its goal as seeking “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
In addition to the Black Leadership Summit, Turning Point holds other annual gatherings, including the Young Women’s Leadership Summit, the Young Latino Leadership Summit and the Student Action Summit. Turning Point, according to Kirk, has established chapters at over 1,000 college campuses across the country. In a short time, the organization has become quite a force.
In an interview with Business Insider, Kirk asked: “Have you ever seen a conservative shout down a liberal speaker on campus? Isn’t that kind of strange, though, that the left does that every day and conservatives don’t?” He argues: “We live in a broken culture. Where the conservative movement is making gains really quick and where the left is really struggling right now is that we are offering remedies for a broken culture.”
Not too surprisingly, Turning Point is not without controversy. A column in the conservative Washington Examiner written by a college senior insists: “TPUSA is initially attractive to many young people due to the organization’s savvy marketing using memes, posters, and catchy slogans such as ‘socialism sucks.’ And at first glance, this may seem like a good thing for the conservative movement.
“But everyone should be concerned by the mainstreaming of TPUSA and Kirk. … In reality, it’s an organization that pulls kids too young to know any better into a group that’s deeply troubled and dishonest at its core.”
These young people did not think of themselves as victims. They recognized their good fortune as Americans living in a country of opportunity where their own future will be bright if they work hard. In my speech, I quoted black liberal Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson, who 28 years ago wrote: “The sociological truths are that America, while still flawed in its race relations … is now the least racist white-majority society in the world; has a better record of legal protection of minorities than any other society, white or black; offers more opportunities to a greater number of black persons than any other society, including all those of Africa.”