EXCLUSIVE: UMich paid Kendi $20k for a one-hour virtual event

A university spokesperson told Campus Reform the event was paid for, in part, by student fees and state funding.

A student told Campus Reform that he was disappointed in the school's decision to spend that money on Kendi.

The University of Michigan paid Ibram X. Kendi $20,000 to speak at a one-hour virtual event in November 2020.

Campus Reform obtained the contract through a public records request, which detailed that the November 11 speaking engagement would occur on Zoom.

The university’s November 2020 talk, “Discussion with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi,” centered around the Boston University professor’s book Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. 

“SOME AMERICANS cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America - more sophisticated and more insidious than ever,” the book description reads. 

In Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi praises Malcolm X as an “assimilationist,” “anti-White separatist,” and “antiracist” who “inspired millions.” 

“Possibly no other American autobiography opened more anti-racist minds than The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” an excerpt of the book reads.

The School of Education, the School of Social Work, the Rackham Graduate School and the Michigan Ross School of Business sponsored the discussion.

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Campus Reform obtained a copy of the contract between the University of Michigan and Kendi’s speaking agency.

The Regents of the University of Michigan agreed to pay Kendi’s speaking agency, Penguin Random House, $20,000 for the one-hour virtual event of which Kendi spoke for 45 minutes and answered questions for 15 minutes. 

The contract between the University of Michigan and Penguin Random House also noted that Kendi would be unavailable to do “sound checks, microphone checks, AV checks.”

Additionally, the contract stipulated that if the event went over 1,000 attendees, Penguin Random House would charge a higher amount.

Campus Reform asked the director of Public Affairs and Internal Communications at the University of Michigan Rick Fitzgerald where the funds came from to cover the cost of the event.

“Costs for this event were covered by the university’s General Fund. General Fund money comes from a variety of sources, including student tuition and fees, state appropriations and costs recovered from sponsored research activities,” Fitzgerald replied. 

“It pays for teaching, student services, facilities and administrative support for the university,” he continued.

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Ryan Fisher, a senior and president of the university’s College Republicans chapter, told Campus Reform that he is disappointed but not surprised by this news.

“While we do not support most anti-racist curricula, the University spends money in countless frivolous ways,” Fisher said.

Campus Reform reached out to University of Michigan and Kendi for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.