The Moment in 1986 When Critical Race Theory Ousted the Civil Rights Movement
By The Editors

CRT, radical ambition and the triumph of racist ideology.

The Moment in 1986 When Critical Race Theory Ousted the Civil Rights Movement


For generations, men and women struggled against policies and laws that separated black Americans from white ones.

But then leftist Black academics realized that if they won that struggle, their power would be diminished. Their solution: CRT.

Defenders of critical race theory describe it as simply a “way of looking at race” in history and society — and ridicule what MSNBC calls the “fact-free GOP freakout” over its adoption in schools.

But in RealClearInvestigations, Eric Felten finds much to belie that benign portrayal by examining CRT’s academic origins in the words of its own radical proponents. And in the process, he illuminates an overlooked turning-point in American history: that moment in 1986 when, on a bucolic New England campus, CRT ousted the civil rights movement and color-blindedness gave way to explicit race-consciousness.


  • Felten’s key reference is a 1995 textbook, “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement,” edited by radical academics, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, pioneer of “intersectionality.”
  • In a foreword, activist Cornel West admits that CRT is not an academic approach but a “politically committed movement.”
  • CRT arose from an acrimonious break between the “crits” — white critical theory scholars — and upstart “race crits” at a conference that the crits held in 1986 at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts.
  • There the race crits turned on their baffled white allies, publicly accusing their fellow progressives of racist recidivism.
  • The race-crits viewed their erstwhile allies as just another group to be judged by the color of their skin: white.
  • Largely freed of the stodgy views of the white radicals, the academics developed the ideology making dramatic headway today, one that likens assimilation to genocide.

Read the full article here.