The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) is set to host their 103rd annual conference this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, also known as “Music City.” Although their theme this year is “harmony,” the NCSS’s line-up of keynote speakers includes highly divisive people. From featuring those whose cries of “white supremacy” echo the widely spread sentiment across America for the last few years to those whose far leftist political sentiment is central to their work, the NCSS is set to prepare teachers to escalate their efforts working towards “social justice” to a new level. 

While the workshops will help teachers expand their library of exceptional, yet troublesome, resources that they can bring back to their colleagues and classrooms, the speakers featured at the conference will use their power to persuade the minds of teachers into thinking like radical leftist activists, which in turn will seep into their lesson plans and the minds of their students. (The Locke Society will cover the content of the workshops in a follow-up article.)

Although one’s X/Twitter account may reflect personal opinions, when one shares political sentiment on their public/professional accounts, it can be understood that their personal beliefs will seep into critical aspects of their work. For many of these speakers, their personal tweets disparaging America are often shared alongside their work, leaving no doubt at all that their speeches at the NCSS will be politically charged.

The first speaker featured on their highlighted list is Kerry Kennedy, whose hatred for Donald Trump is prominently displayed on her X/Twitter feed. It looks like the NCSS is already preparing for their commentary and influence in the 2024 election. 

Dr. Crystal M. Fleming is an award-winning sociologist and writer. She is a Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University. Although Fleming does not appear to have an active X/Twitter account, references to her work on it show her commitment to Critical Race Theory and her inspiration to the “agents of change” along with her divisive rhetoric. 

Jelani Memory is the founder and CEO of A Kids Co, a children’s book marketplace. He is another champion of the “social justice” movement. 

Dolly Chugh is a Harvard-educated, award-winning social psychologist at the NYU Stern School of Business. Although this conference is supposed to reflect “harmony,” Chugh’s tweets on X/Twitter appear less than harmonious.

Larissa Lam is an award-winning filmmaker and speaker. She directed the documentary Far East Deep South. Lam appears to be another speaker prepping for the 2024 election, and yet another “harmonious” addition to the group. 

Zoe Weil is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). Her commentary on “white privilege” and “structural racism” seem like a Merriam-Webster-worthy definition of how one practices “harmony.”

Keith C. Barton is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Indiana University and yet another advocate for Critical Race Theory. 

Carl Azuz is a “news and features personality” who is the host of The World From A to Z. Although he boasts to be “non-biased,” historians know that there is always bias present in any contemporary history from within the last fifty years to the present day. The decision to include or leave out certain sources, people, press, events, and commentary may all be done based on one’s bias, if they do not include literally everything. Whether he realizes it or not, but most likely he does, statements that seem to be “pure facts” are often made without critical context, and that changes its meaning entirely. Just one example given in his recent coverage of the devastating current events centered around Israel and Hamas would leave listeners thinking Israel is equal to Hamas in their actions. 

In the episode, Differing Perspectives on a Ceasefire, Azuz’s reporting suggests that Israel is also guilty of taking what sounds like innocent Palestinians as “prisoners” due to his leaving out the critical fact that the “prisoners” being held in Israel are suspected or convicted terrorists, not women, children, and elderly civilians. 

The issue here rests in his decision to include only the UN’s response when the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres just came under scrutiny for anti-Semitic comments. In his video Threats in America, Azuz says, “Israel blames Hamas for endangering civilians by intentionally organizing in civilian areas, but the UN Human Rights office says its concerned that Israel’s attack on the refugee camp could be considered a war crime.” 

Additional speakers at the conference include, Emeritus Tulane University history professor, Bill C. Malone;  Dr. Linda S. Levstik, Professor Emerita at the University of Kentucky who received the Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career Research Award (2007) from the NCSS for her own work on “historical thinking, gender equitable classrooms, and the worlds presented in children’s literature”; Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, and the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns; Marty Stuart who is a renowned American country and bluegrass singer, songwriter, and musician; Baldwin Chiu who is an award-winning film producer and hip hop artist; Carol Anderson who is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, and whose posts on X/Twitter are private; Nathan Hale who is the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series; David Grann who is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine;  and, Li-Ching Ho who is a Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.