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Historically Black Fraternity Moves Convention Out of Florida, Cites Governor Ron DeSantis' 'Racist' Policies

'Governor DeSantis has continuously advocated for laws and policies that negatively impact Black people,' said Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity President

The African American men’s organization Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of “racist” policies and announced it will relocate its general convention.

The fraternity was scheduled to host its 99th General Convention and the 119th Anniversary Convention in 2025 in Orlando. The organization said DeSantis’ “harmful, racist, and insensitive policies against the Black community” prompted the decision to relocate. 

“Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has an unmatched legacy of social justice, advocacy, and leadership for the Black community,” said Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s general president, in a July 26 press release. “In this environment of manufactured division and attacks on the Black community, Alpha Phi Alpha refuses to direct a projected $4.6 million convention economic impact to a place hostile to the communities we serve.”

“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,” Lonzer continued.

Lonzer told The Hill that the debate over the education standard in Florida played a significant role in the organization’s decision.

Florida’s Board of Education approved new guidelines that require lessons about race to be taught in an “objective” manner that does not aim to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view,” per CBS 17. The guideline is opposed by the teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association. 

“We believe in education, not indoctrination,” said DeSantis in April of 2022, per NBC Miami. “We will not use your tax dollars to teach our kids to hate this country or hate each other.”

“Governor DeSantis has continuously advocated for laws and policies that negatively impact Black people and other marginalized communities,” Lonzer told the outlet. “We start first with the laws rejecting the teaching of race and the cultural diversity of our nation. We can even talk about the bill that he supported, banning [diversity, equity and inclusion] initiatives in colleges and universities. But the final straw really was his advancement of this new curriculum standards released last week, suggesting enslaved people developed skills that could later be a personal benefit to them, which is absolutely absurd.”

Alpha Phi Alpha was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. Today the organization has over 970 chapters across the United States, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Korea, and the Virgin Islands.

It is currently hosting its 97th General Convention and 117th Anniversary Convention in Dallas, Texas. The event’s theme is “Strengthening the Brotherhood and Standing for Social Justice.”

Kappa Alpha Psi, the second oldest historically black fraternity in America, condemned DeSantis in response to the new educational guidelines and for the state’s decision to reject an Advance Placement class on African American history offered by College Board. The group accused Republicans of leading “efforts to erase Black history by eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion programs.”

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