Critical Race Theory: What It Is and What It Isn’t

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute will host an online discussion on the importance of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in academic, education, and activist studies. The event will be live-streamed on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page on June 22 from 6-7 pm CST.

CRT is invaluable in how it helps us understand, research, study, and teach how race functions in the United States and across the globe. However, much of this has come under attack as opponents of CRT charge that it divides Americans and promotes a distorted view of American history through a racial and ideological lens. In response to these attacks on CRT, the panelists will address those concerns and help unpack what CRT is and why it has been and continues to be an essential tool in addressing our racist past and present.

While this event is free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to RSVP for the event here:

Watch the event here.

The panelists for the event are distinguished scholars and serve as Hooks Academic Research Fellows.

Dr. Kami Anderson

Dr. Kami (pronounced kah-MEE) Anderson is an interculturalist, scholar, and language advocate. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Anderson has always kept a tight grip on her passion and compassion for others and difference through language. Her primary focus is family empowerment through language with an emphasis on application and confidence. Dr. Anderson received her Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication from Howard University in 2007. She received a BA in Spanish from Spelman College and a MA in International Communication and Cultural Anthropology from American University. She has been teaching in higher education since 2005.  She has taught a wide range of courses in higher education including public speaking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, human communication, media, culture and society, small group communication, international communication, business communication as well as a faculty-led student travel course: City as Text.

Dr. Wallis C. Baxter III

Wallis C. Baxter III, Ph.D. is a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., and grew up in Marietta, GA. After attending Morehouse for his BA degree and Duke Divinity School for his M.Div., Dr. Baxter completed his Ph.D. in African American Literature at Howard University. Dr. Baxter currently teaches African American Literature at Gettysburg College. He is the author of the forthcoming publication You Must Be Born Again: Phillis Wheatley as Prophetic Poet (Lexington Books, 2021). In addition, he is co-editing a two-volume series of sermons entitled Preaching During a Pandemic: The Rhetoric of the Black Preaching Tradition (Peter Lang, 2022).

Dr. Le’Trice Donaldson

Le’Trice Donaldson is an Assistant Professor of History in the Applied Social Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She earned her Ph.D. in African American History from the University of Memphis, and her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her research centers on the lives of African Americans in the military and how gender and masculinity help (re)shape the narrative of the Black military experience.

Daniel Kiel

Daniel Kiel

Daniel Kiel is a professor of law at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he joined the faculty in 2008 and teaches constitutional law, education & civil rights, and property law. In addition to his record of publications focusing on disparities in education, Professor Kiel is the director of The Memphis 13 (2011), a documentary sharing the stories of the first graders who desegregated Memphis City Schools in 1961. The film has been screened at universities, film festivals, museums, and schools across the country and was made possible in part by a research grant from the Hooks Institute in 2010.

Professor Kiel has been recognized on campus with the university’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Human Rights Award (2013) and the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2017) as well as various honors within the law school. He has served on the Hooks Institute’s National Book Award committee since 2012 and also contributed a paper to the Institute’s 2018 Policy Papers series. Professor Kiel is a native Memphian and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Law School.

The event will be moderated by Andre E. Johnson


Andre E Johnson

Andre E. Johnson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Film and the Scholar in Residence at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric, Race, Religion, and Interracial Communication. Dr. Johnson is the author of The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (Lexington Books, 2012) the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar, Ph.D.) of The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter (Lexington Books, 2018), and the author of No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (University Press of Mississippi, 2020).

About the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education, and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums, and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit the Hooks Institute.