Larry Elder says fatherlessness is the biggest problem for Black people in America

Conservative talk show host discusses hot-button issues, shares personal stories


Elder met College Republicans President Lilly Gillespie, ’22, and Kamron Spivey, ’24. Photo courtesy of the Generals Redoubt.

Grace Mamon

Larry Elder, conservative talk radio host and writer, said that the number one problem facing the Black community in America is not systemic racism during his talk in University Chapel March 31.

“[The number one problem] is the large number of kids entering the world without a father married to a mother,” Elder said. “Everything else pales in comparison.”

The Generals Redoubt and College Republicans jointly brought Elder to campus for a talk that drew many people from other areas of the state. 

Elder, who has made waves as an outspoken Black conservative, talked about hot-button issues like systemic racism, the 2020 election and school choice.

The audience applauded after Elder said that unmarried parents were the biggest issue for the Black community.

Even Barack Obama, Elder said, has talked about how children raised without fathers are more likely to commit crimes, drop out of school and end up in jail.

The welfare state has “incentivized women to marry the government, and incentivized men to abandon their financial and moral responsibilities,” Elder said.

“Pick up your magic wand, wave it over America and remove every smidgeon of racism from the hearts of white people, including white cops,” he said.

And even then, the country would still have the phenomenon where the number one cause of preventable death for white men is accidents, like car crashes or drowning, whereas the number one cause of death, preventable or non-preventable, for young Black men is homicide, “almost always at the hands of another young Black man,” Elder said.

“So, I submit to you that systemic racism is not the problem,” he said, though he admitted that “nobody ever said racism has gone away, for crying out loud.”

But he said claims about America being systematically racist are a lie, using the police force and Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted for the murder of George Floyd, as an example.

“Do you have bad cops? Of course, you do,” Elder said. “I believe that the Derek Chauvin verdict was a just verdict.”

But the idea that police departments are institutionally racist is false, Elder said. In New York, he said, 25% of residents are Black, but 55% of traffic stops are of Black people.

“Yet the police officers in New York, the street cops, are mostly police officers of color,” Elder said. “A 30-point differential. If, by definition, a gap like that means that your department is institutionally racist, then the NYPD is also institutionally racist. You can’t do it that way.”

These opinions are what got Elder into talk radio over 30 years ago.

Elder said that a newspaper in Cleveland, where he lived, published his op-ed about how racism is no longer a major impediment for the success of people in America.

“I got a phone call from the producer of a radio show. He said ‘I read your article. Are you Black?’” said Elder. “I said ‘I’ve been told.’”

Elder joined the producer on the show and found that listeners in Cleveland, especially Black listeners, were not happy with his viewpoints. He said he was called an Uncle Tom and the Antichrist.

“And then I was called a name that you call a Black person when you really want to hurt them,” Elder said. “I was called a Republican. A man can only take so much.”

Despite this bad first impression, Elder has created a successful career for himself in talk radio.

The native Californian hosts a daily, nationally syndicated radio show, “The Larry Elder Show,” writes a nationally syndicated column through Creators Syndicate, produces YouTube and television videos, and is a published author.

Many people who attended the talk watch or listen to Elder’s show.

Bakh Pearl, who came to the talk from Roanoke with his father, who is a 1978 Washington and Lee alum, said he heard about the event through the Generals Redoubt and the daily newspaper.

Pearl, although describing himself as a Trump supporter, said he was “really interested in both sides of issues” and wanted to hear things from Elder’s perspective.

The distinction between being a Trump supporter and a Republican was also an issue that Elder touched on. During the question-and-answer portion of the event, one attendee asked about the future of the Republican party and its agenda.

“I’m troubled by both parties,” Elder said, and talked about how the federal government has gotten too big and too involved in people’s lives.

The founding fathers did not intend for the federal government to be in the business of healthcare or disaster relief, Elder said.

“The agenda should be Article 1 Section 8. Get government off my back,” Elder said, receiving another round of applause from the audience.

Elder also spoke about his candidacy to replace California’s governor in the 2021 recall election. Many of his listeners urged him to run, Elder said. He said he was reluctant, but when he ran the idea past “regular people,” like his barber, they encouraged him too.

“The more I talked to regular people, the more I thought, if not you, who? If not now, when?” Elder said.

Though voters chose not to recall incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom, Elder said he has not closed the door for future political office.

“If Donald Trump needs a running mate, he’s got my phone number,” he said.

Elder spoke about school choice, which was one of his biggest campaign issues during the race.

He talked about how a large percentage of public-school teachers across the country send their own school-aged kids to private schools.

“That’s the equivalent of opening up a restaurant and putting up a sign and saying ‘Come on in. Eat the food. We sure won’t,’” he said. “People who know the school system the best are not putting their own kids in it.”

Elder said that parents have a responsibility to get their kids the best education they possibly can.

“But what I really resent is that Democrats, most of whom put their own kids in private school, are stopping other people from doing the same thing,” Elder said.

Elder also answered questions about controversial topics, like Ukraine and Russia, Hunter Biden, climate change and how to deal with Confederate monuments.

This last point was especially relevant, as the talk was held in University Chapel and began with a speech from Kamron Spivey, president of the Students for Historical Preservation, about the recent changes to the chapel.

Pamphlets about the plaques that have been removed from the walls of the chapel were passed around before the event.

“Unfortunately, this beautiful historic landmark has been subjected to the historical revisionism that has plagued this country, and especially Virginia, over the last few years,” Spivey said.

At least 18 plaques have been removed from the walls of the chapel, according to Spivey, and the recumbent statue of Lee will be walled over this summer. 

Many members of the audience shook their heads or muttered aloud after this statement.

Spivey also announced that the Generals Redoubt is starting a campaign called “Save Lee Chapel.” The campaign will use alumni funds to preserve the site, which sees over 40,000 tourists a year, said Spivey. 

Lilly Gillespie, ’22, president of College Republicans, said she got to walk with Elder around the campus and chapel museum before the event. It was his first time on campus, but students were able to tell him about the changes to University Chapel. She said he was “not a fan” of the modifications.  

Spivey urged attendees to “tell the W&L administration that you oppose erasing the history of this school.”

When an audience member asked him about his opinion on removing or preserving Confederate monuments, Elder said that he has had conversations about this with his parents, who are both from the South.

“They said, of all things that are troubling the country, that doesn’t even make the list,” Elder said.

He rattled off statistics about the dropout rate in urban schools and the rate of Black kids in public high schools who can’t read or do math at grade level.

“And we’re talking about whether or not there ought to be a Confederate monument in the public square?” he said. “Let history be history. You can have your own opinion about whether or not this person should be revered, but to take it down and to act like it didn’t happen doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”