Oldest Black fraternity pulls 2025 convention out of Florida citing ‘hostile’ policies

The oldest intercollegiate Black fraternity in the country is moving its 2025 conference from Florida, calling the state “hostile” to the Black community.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. will relocate the fraternity’s 99th General Convention and 119th Anniversary Convention from Orlando “due to Governor Ron DeSantis’ harmful, racist, and insensitive policies against the Black community,” according to a press release from the organization.

The event was expected to generate $4.6 million, according to Alpha Phi Alpha.

“Although we are moving our convention from Florida, Alpha Phi Alpha will continue to support the strong advocacy of Alpha Brothers and other advocates fighting against the continued assault on our communities in Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis,” said General President Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III.

Alpha Phi Alpha, whose membership has included historical figures like civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell and Thurgood Marshall, joins other national Black organizations that have either pulled their conventions out of Florida or denounced the DeSantis administration’s policies, including the recent approval of the state’s African American history standards.

The new curriculum sparked fierce backlash from educators, political leaders, including Vice President Kamala Harris, and advocacy groups who said the standards leave out Florida’s role in slavery and the oppression of African Americans, victim blames Black communities and uses outdated language.

More:112-year-old Black fraternal organization denounces Gov. DeSantis for ‘racist policies’

More:‘Factual?’ ‘Lies?’ What to know about Florida schools’ new Black history standards

DeSantis, who is running to be the Republican nominee for president, has defended the new curriculum and has also tried to distance himself from it at the same time.

After Harris traveled to Jacksonville to speak against the new curriculum and other recent Florida education laws, the governor accused her and other Democrats of lying to cover for “their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children.” When asked about skills for enslaved people during a press conference Saturday, DeSantis first said he had nothing to do with writing the curriculum but that he believed it was “rooted in whatever was factual.”

Last week, another Black fraternal organization, Kappa Alpha Psi, announced in a press release 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.”

Past and present members of Kappa Alpha Psi listened to the ceremony where the historical marker for the Black fraternity was unveiled in 2008.

The announcement was on the same day the Florida Board of Education approved the new African American history standards.

Kappa Alpha Psi is the second-oldest existing Black Greek-letter organization and one of the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the “Divine Nine.” The fraternity was 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.

Earlier this month, the National Society of Black Engineers announced its 2024 convention will no longer be held in Orlando next spring after participants voiced their concerns about the state’s political climate and safety.

Hundreds participated in the National Action Network demonstration in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s efforts to minimize diverse education. The activists chanted and carried signs while making their way from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida to the Capitol building Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Al Sharpton was the keynote speaker at the rally on the steps of the Senate portico.

“The very basis of our work is equity,” said NSBE CEO Janeen Uzzell. “NSBE was formed almost 50 years ago in response to the sparsity of Black people enrolling and succeeding in engineering education programs. So, we stand firm in our decision to relocate, because, inherently, any efforts that seek to regress diversity, equity and inclusion directly impact us and are unaligned with the mission of NSBE.”

And in May, the NAACP issued a travel advisory against Florida, 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.” 

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