The group will be led by the president of the conservative Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, a longtime Trump ally, the White House said.
President Donald Trump is still trying to advance “patriotic education,” announcing 33 days before his departure from office his intent to appoint members of a 1776 Commission.
The group will be led by the president of the conservative Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, a longtime Trump ally, who will serve as chairman, the White House said Friday. Matthew Spalding, vice president for the college’s Washington, D.C., operations and dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government, has been appointed executive director of the Commission, according to the college.
The commission is part of Trump’s defense against critical race theory and the 1619 Project, directed by The New York Times Magazine, which revisits the country’s history with a focus on slavery and Black Americans’ contributions. Trump has said he hopes to counter lessons that he believes divide Americans on race and slavery and teach students to “hate their own country.”
Along with Arnn, others to be appointed to the 18-member panel include activist Charlie Kirk, who founded the conservative campus group Turning Point USA; Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who has declared his state “Trump Country;” Silicon Valley CEO and Trump fundraiser Scott McNealy; Brooke Rollins, Trump’s domestic policy adviser; and Mike Gonzalez, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow.
“The 1776 Committee was formed to advise the President about the core principles of the American founding and how to protect those principles by promoting patriotic education,” Spalding said in a statement. “The path to a renewed and confident national unity is through a rediscovery of our shared identity rooted in those principles.”
Spalding took a temporary leave of absence from his duties at Hillsdale for the appointment, according to the college.
Key context: Trump directed the commission’s creation via executive order last month to “better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.”
The order followed a summer and fall marked by protests against police killings of Black men and women and Trump lashing out against the protesters as he positioned himself as the “law and order” candidate.
His order blasts historical accounts that he says have “vilified” the nation’s founders.
What’s next: The appointments are for two years, but it’s unclear if those selected will ever meet. President-elect Joe Biden has included addressing racial justice issues among his top concerns when he takes office.
“If ever there was a time for big change it’s now,” Biden told National Education Association members last summer. “We have to make this at least an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete change.”