Conservative star Charlie Kirk comes to campus, speaks in Lee Chapel

Kirk stirred pushback in the audience with some provocative claims, including that minorities “seek out victimhood.”


Charlie Kirk, founder of conservative political organization Turning Point USA, speaks in Lee Chapel. Photo by Kathryn Young.

Kathryn Young

Nearly 100 Washington and Lee students, Southern Virginia University students and community members gathered in Lee Chapel to see Charlie Kirk, the conservative speaker and founder of pro-Trump political organization Turning Point USA, speak.

“If you disagree with me, come to the front of the line,” Charlie Kirk said to begin his question and answer session in a talk on Feb. 4.

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is an activist group with the goal of electing conservatives to positions of student government in colleges across the country. Kirk did not graduate from college, instead pursuing TPUSA.

The nearly two-hour talk and question and answer session was funded by the Futch Forum, an organization named for a former Washington and Lee professor in the history department. The Futch Forum is managed by The Spectator, a right-leaning online publication run by Washington and Lee students. The Futch Forum is used to fund bringing conservative and libertarian speakers to the Washington and Lee campus.

Attendees were able to grab Turning Point USA stickers at the talk. Photo by Kathryn Young.

Other co-sponsors for Kirk’s talk were the Southern Virginia University College Republicans and the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee.

“I was most excited to hear Mr. Kirk present what I felt was a good representation of conservatism’s new generation—politically libertarian, anti-endless Middle East wars, pro-capitalism and economic freedom, and athwart identity and grievance politics,” said Nathan Richendollar, ‘19, former executive editor of The Spectator and director of Futch Forum.

Kirk’s talk covered a wide range of topics—everything from nationwide hot issues like late-term abortion and business in America, to more localized topics like the legacy of George Washington and Robert E. Lee and the controversy surrounding members of the executive brand in Virginia.

Kirk said he doesn’t think Gov. Ralph Northam should resign after his controversial yearbook photo. But he did note that “whoever ran the opposition research for Ed Gillespie (Northam’s 2017 gubernatorial opposition) should never be hired again.”

Kirk regularly visits college campuses, where his speeches are often characterized by protesters and opposition from left-leaning organizations, including Antifa.

During a speaking event at Stanford University last spring, Kirk was greeted with large-scale walkouts and a protest.