Black fraternal organization denounces Gov. DeSantis for ‘racist policies’

The same day the Florida Board of Education approved a controversial new curriculum for African American history over protests from critics about victim-shaming, outdated language and the erasure of Florida’s role in slavery and oppression, a Black fraternal order has denounced the policies coming from the state and its governor.

Kappa Alpha Psi, one of the oldest and largest Black fraternal organizations in the country, announced in a press release that they were joining a “broad coalition of organizations in solidarity against insensitive, discriminatory, and racist policies being promoted in the State of Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies.”

The organization will be holding a press conference on the matter Thursday at the fraternity’s 86th Grand Chapter Meeting in Tampa. Over 20,000 people are expected to attend the annual convention.

“Governor Ron DeSantis; efforts to erase Black history by eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion programs and Advanced Placement African American studies courses in Florida schools, is a vivid reminder that our work in the vanguard for social justice in America continues,” Grand Polemarch Reuben A. Shelton III, leader of the national organization, said in the release. “Our work for justice is perpetual.

“These actions compel us to work harder to protect the legacy of those who struggled and died to make a ‘More Perfect Union,'” he said.

What is Kappa Alpha Psi?

Kappa Alpha Psi is the second-oldest existing Black Greek-letter organization and one of the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the “Divine Nine.” Founded in 1911 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, during a time of intense racial discrimination when Black students were a tiny minority on campus, and the state was a stronghold for the Ku Klux Klan.

“During their matriculation, lynching was a common practice in Indiana,” Shelton said.

“Blacks could go weeks without seeing one another on campus,” according to the fraternity’s website. “Blacks were not allowed to reside in on-campus dormitories, were not afforded off-campus accommodations, and they were also denied the use of all other university facilities, and were barred from participating in contact sports. Track and Field was the only sport which Blacks were able to demonstrate their athleticism.”

Two students, Elder Watson Diggs and Byron Kenneth Armstrong, had attended Howard Univerity and were inspired by the first and only Black Greek-letter fraternity at the time, Alpha Phi Alpha. They met with eight other men to organize their own fraternity “to promote the spiritual, social, intellectual and moral welfare of members,” according to one of the five objectives of the organization.

Initially, the fraternity was called Kappa Alpha Nu, but it was changed to Kappa Alpha Psi four years later after other students began using the original name as an ethnic slur. The nickname for members is still “Nupes.”

Kappa Alpha Psi has over 250,000 members with 643 undergraduate and alumni chapters in nearly every state of the United States, and international chapters in Abu Dhabi UAE, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, the Grand Bahamas, Japan, South Korea, Nigeria, South Africa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What is the controversy over Florida’s new curriculum for African American history?

In January, Gov. DeSantis’ administration said it was banning the national Advanced Placement course on African American studies over topics such as Black Lives Matter, Black feminism and reparations, due to the governor’s “principled stand for education over identity politics” and because it “significantly lacks educational value.” The College Board released a revised framework and received criticism for “watering down of history” although the board said the revisions were not done due to political pressure.

In response, Florida Education Commissioner Many Diaz appointed a task force to create a separate African American history curriculum, but opponents quickly pointed out several issues, including, among other things:

  • Elementary and middle school students are not required to learn about African American history past Reconstruction;
  • The middle school curriculum includes a benchmark clarification that states “(i)nstruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit”;
  • In high school, when learning about the Ocoee Massacre — the largest incidence of voting-day violence in U.S. history when a mob of white people killed Black community members and burned their houses after a Black man tried to vote — the benchmark clarification states “(i)nstruction includes acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.”

Other examples cited by opponents of the curriculum include omitting person-first language and calling enslaved people “slaves,” and mentioning the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education but not including in the benchmark clarification that in 1957, the Florida Legislature passed a resolution in opposition of the decision that ended legal segregation in schools or that Florida seceded from the union during the Civil War.

This comes after last year’s “Stop WOKE Act” from DeSantis, which restricts how race is discussed in schools, colleges and workplaces and prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin.

College students, Greek-letter organizations like Kappa Alpha Psi and Black leaders have held multiple protests around the state, fighting against what they consider to be an attack on Black history in Florida and a conservative overhaul of the state’s higher education.

‘We won’t go back, we will fight back’:FSU, FAMU students march against Gov. DeSantis’ move to dismantle diversity programs

The NAACP issued a travel advisory against Florida in May, warning that Florida was “openly hostile” to Black Americans, following multiple other travel advisories from LGBTQ+ and immigration groups.

“Before traveling to Florida,” the advisory reads, “please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.” 

Did Florida ban Black fraternities?

In the 2023 Florida Legislature there was concern that a proposed bill, HB 999, which banned majors and minors in critical race theory, intersectionality and some gender studies and prohibited public universities from using state funds for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, including campus activities, might also ban fraternities and sororities that fought for DEI beliefs.

After protests from Greek-letter organizations, the Senate version of the bill, SB 266, removed the “campus activities” part. DeSantis signed SB 266 into law in May.

What is the Divine Nine?

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is a council made up of historically Black fraternities and sororities, founded at Howard University in 1930 when Greek-letter collegiate organizations founded by white members did not want to be affiliated with them.

Kappa Alpha Psi was one of the founding members, along with Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta. The council later expanded to include Alpha Phi Alpha (1931), Phi Beta Sigma (1931), Sigma Gamma Rho (1937) and Iota Phi Theta (1996).

The NPHC was nicknamed “The Divine Nine” by author Lawrence Ross in his book, “The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities.”

Who are some of the famous alumni of Kappa Alpha Psi?

Some of the celebrated members of Kappa Alpha Psi are Ralph Abernathy, Wilt Chamberlin, Montell Jordan, Benjamin Jealous, Oscar Robertson, Cedric the Entertainer, Arthur Ashe, Mike Tomlin, Gayle Sayers, Adrian Fenty, Robert S. Abbott, Bennie Thompson, Donald Byrd, Johnnie Cochran, Ed Gardner, Smokie Norful, John Singleton, Tom Bradley, Bob Johnson, John Conyers, (Florida Rep.) Alcee Hastings, (Florida Bar President) Eugene K. Pettis, Lerone Bennett Jr., Kwame Jackson, Bill Russell, Tavis Smiley, Marvin Sapp and Colin Kaepernick.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site