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In memoir, NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson mulls 2024 run, calls for taking science, history out of elementary schools

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson published a memoir describing his upbringing and future political plans.

Posted Updated

By
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is dropping more hints about a potential run for governor in 2024. And, if elected, he says he’d work to keep science and history out of some elementary school classrooms. He says he’d also seek to eliminate the State Board of Education, end abortion and work to prevent transgender people from serving in the military.

In a forthcoming memoir, Robinson explains how he drew his views from a wide range of life experiences, beginning with a troubled upbringing and a violent father. Little did he know that a fiery 2018 speech about gun rights at a Greensboro City Council meeting would set him on a journey to become the state’s top Republican executive office holder and first Black lieutenant governor.

WRAL News obtained an advance copy of the book,“We Are the Majority: The Life and Passions of a Patriot,” which is scheduled to be released Sept. 13. Here are seven takeaways:

1. Robinson is readying a 2024 gubernatorial run.

Throughout his memoir, the lieutenant governor all but announces he’ll seek to become North Carolina’s governor in 2024, saying he’s giving it serious consideration.

He writes that he and his team have lists of fundraising contacts in anticipation of a run. He also says he is drafting plans of what a prospective gubernatorial bid might look like once second-term Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is out of office.

“We have had a leader who has taken us a long way in the wrong direction over the course of his two terms, and that’s where I think I could be of great service to the people of this state,” Robinson writes of Cooper. “Somebody’s got to right the ship before it sinks. While I have not declared for that race, we are making plans to make a strong run should I decide to.”

Cooper’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Plans for a gubernatorial run quickly entered Robinson’s head after he was elected as lieutenant governor in 2020 and Cooper defeated Republican challenger Dan Forest.

“It did create a clear path for what I might do next,” Robinson writes.

Robinson signaled little appetite for holding federal office, noting he declined to run for an open U.S. Senate seat this year held by outgoing Sen. Richard Burr. He also says he hasn’t pursued what he describes as calls for him to be placed on a ticket as U.S. vice president.

“At the moment, I’m laser focused on the executive branch of the government in North Carolina,” he says.

2. Robinson wants to eliminate the State Board of Education, leave science and history out of curricula for first through fifth grade.

Education is perhaps the top policy priority for Robinson.

Robinson said he’d work to keep history, science and a number of other subjects out of first through fifth grade curricula and instead prioritize reading, writing and math.

“In those grades, we don’t need to be teaching social studies,” he writes. “We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice.”

Robinson also reaffirms personal views on climate change that became a major issue in the 2020 election. “Guess what? Most of the people of North Carolina know global warming is junk science,” he writes.

As lieutenant governor, Robinson is a voting member on the State Board of Education. He nonetheless says he’d like to eliminate the department if he could.

“I would get rid of it,” Robinson writes. “We need to have one entity, one person, where the buck stops. Right now we have at least three: the school boards, the state superintendent of education and the local school systems—and none are truly answerable to the others. We need one entity to be in charge of education in the state so that when the legislature has questions and concerns, they can go to that single institution and expect to influence the way education is done.”

Robinson also wants a sizable expansion of school voucher programs to make it easier for students to move to high-quality charter schools, saying that public schools could become “a thing of the past.”

“We need to build more, not limit them,” he says of charter schools. “And if we find success along the way, we should bring it into the system. We might adopt charter school methods throughout the system. We might see a mass exodus from the public schools entirely, and before you know it, traditional public schools might be a thing of the past.”

Vouchers pay for private schools, but not charter schools, which are free alternative public schools.

He also says schools need to do a better job of disciplining students who misbehave in the classroom but that instilling values of right and wrong ought to be left to parents.

“If a child is hindering their own or others’ learning by misbehaving, the child must be stopped or removed from the classroom until they can demonstrate proper behavior,” he writes. “Ideally, these children would be returned to their parents or guardians until they are able to behave at school.”

3. Robinson is inconsistent on the role of government in social issues.

Throughout the book, Robinson expresses conflicting views on the role the government should have on a number of social issues.

Robinson speaks critically of government financial assistance, noting it shouldn’t become a dependency. His views stem in part from a substantially better quality of life he had as a child after his late mother took on a custodial job at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.

“Once the government gets you hooked, it feels that it has the right to tell you what to do and how you have to live,” Robinson writes. “I don’t want anybody to tell me what I can or cannot do. No one should want that. That’s for you to decide for yourself and your family. Not for me. Not for anybody else. Making those day-to-day choices is just as much what freedom means as having a position on the big, flashy issues of the day.”

Despite that view, he makes clear how he thinks people should act when it comes to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Robinson thinks “gay marriage is not marriage either in the eyes of God or even by definition.” He noted he supported a “legally bound couple” being allowed to get insurance with their partner, leave money to their partner in their will and sign over power of attorney to their partner.

“There should not be separate legal requirements,” Robinson writes. “But I don’t believe you should come down to the school, most especially the elementary schoolhouse, and teach kids about what you do in the bedroom, as if your sexual preferences and practices ought to be celebrated and govern government approval and even support.”

Robinson also advocates for making abortion illegal.

“Just as we brought an end to slavery for the causes of liberty and justice, we must end abortion for the cause of life,” he writes. “We must acknowledge that calling something ‘legal’ does not make it just or right. We must acknowledge that life exists from the moment of conception.”

He likens abortion to “murder,” as he has in the past, and he calls the subject “the most pressing social issue of our time.”

“They’re murdering a person because the person is standing in their way and keeping them from doing something they want to do,” he said. “It’s no different than, for instance, me killing my neighbor because he’s standing in the way of me having a job that I want.”

His aim to limit a woman’s access to abortion is informed by a decision he and his then-girlfriend (and now wife) made in 1989 to not go through with a pregnancy—an experience that was briefly mentioned in the book.

4. Robinson says women ‘love to talk a man into submission.’

Robinson has come under scrutiny in the past for views he’s expressed on gender roles, including a speech he delivered last year saying Christians are “called to be led by men” rather than women.

In the book, Robinson emphasizes the important role his mother played in his upbringing. When Robinson was born, his dad was 71 years old, while his mother was about 40. When she got her first paycheck after his father’s death in 1979, she took the family to McDonald’s.

“That night was a turning point for our family,” Robinson said. “We realized that we would make it without my dad. At the time, it was just about a hamburger. That Big Mac was like heaven, like hitting the lottery. But now, as an adult, I recognize it was about so much more than [that]. It was about my mother’s commitment to us.”

Robinson also heralded his wife, Yolanda Hill, as a major source of inspiration. The lieutenant governor described his relationships with women before he met Yolanda as “one long argument.”

He added: “I have found that women in general don’t like to be outtalked. When you go out in groups, it often comes down to discussions, women on one side, men on the other. And back then, I’d be just hurling it. Often women would get quite angry. They love to be able to talk a man into submission. And with me, it never happens. They can’t do it.”

5. Robinson lashes out over gay pride rallies, transgender people.

Robinson likens gay pride parades to strip clubs and bars with prostitutes, insisting such venues are inappropriate for children.

“Telling a child, ‘Oh, you’re gay,’ or dressing a kid up at the gay pride parade in a fairy costume with a pair of rainbow flags—using kids like that is demented,” he writes. “You shouldn’t let them walk around seeing men with their butts hanging out.”

He also took frequent aim at transgender people, labeling them as mentally and physically unfit to serve in the military.

“Someone who is troubled in this way has something wrong with their brain,” writes Robinson, who served in the Army reserves.

Robinson has previously come under criticism for likening transgenderism to “filth.” In a news conference clarifying his remarks, Robinson said he had been referring to sexually explicit books in school libraries. He called a comic strip-style book "borderline child pornography."

The statements prompted outcry from LGBTQ advocacy groups that said such rhetoric could harm an already vulnerable group of people. Some Democratic lawmakers called on Robinson to resign from office over the remarks.

6. Views on race likely to draw attention.

In the memoir, Robinson often discusses racism through the lens of not fitting the mold of his Black counterparts. He also describes his frustration in not being able to sustain friendships in elementary school because of school busing programs that forced him to constantly move to different schools.

“Segregation was ended in the 1960s, but the attempts to ‘fix’ the education system by misguided social scientists made sure its legacy continued much further into the future than it should have,” he writes. “There were other sensible solutions that might have been put in place—solutions that would not end up punishing the very children the regulations were ostensibly designed to help. You don’t end inequality by destroying a community and the hard-won base of wealth that sustained it, all in the name of social progress.”

He also pushed back on the idea of systemic racism, accusing Democrats of turning the experience of Black Americans “into a tale of ‘woe is me.’”

“You are not a victim forever,” he writes. “Have you been a victim of wrongdoing? Yes. But you were victorious over that. Somebody was victorious over that on your behalf. There’s no reason for you to look at yourself in the mirror and think you are a victim. You’re a receiver of benefits because of what people who came before you did. You should be a benefactor for others.”

7. Robinson apologizes for one Facebook post.

In the book, Robinson reflects on his overall posting strategy, writing that his views were purposefully inflammatory.

“I wanted to be as demonstrative as possible because I wanted people to, as the guy said, ‘Come at me, bro,’” Robinson writes. “I wanted people to come at me. I wanted to be as in their faces as possible. I wanted people to read my page and go ‘What did he say? Did he really say that?’ And that’s what happened. People would come to my page and challenge me over one thing or another. But I made nothing up. Every post was rooted in truth.”

Of all the controversial posts he’s made on social media, Robinson said there is only one he regrets.

Robinson sought to critique the superhero movie “Black Panther” and the wide praise it received for elevating Black culture, noting the film financially benefited wealthy people in Hollywood.

In his post, he tried to make an obscure reference to a quote from Jewish filmmaker Mel Brooks, noting that in order to make a profitable movie, one must understand the audience.

Robinson made reference to the shekel, a currency of Israel, writing, “How can this trash, that was only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets, invoke any pride?”

But Robinson didn’t allude to Brooks or the context behind his post, giving off the impression that he held anti-Semitic views.

Robinson said people were understandably upset.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever apologized for anything I put on Facebook,” Robinson writes. “It did come out wrong. I knew the truth of what I was trying to say, but I should have chosen different words.”

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