In light of Governor DeSantis’ policies, a historically Black fraternity has decided to relocate its convention away from Florida.
The oldest historically Black collegiate fraternity in the U.S., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has announced its decision to relocate a planned convention in 2025 from Florida due to what it perceives as Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration’s “harmful, racist, and insensitive” policies towards African Americans.
The convention, which typically draws between 4,000 and 6,000 attendees and has an economic impact of $4.6 million, will now be moved from Orlando to another yet-to-be-determined location.
The fraternity’s move comes in the wake of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, which highlighted recently passed laws and policies in Florida that were openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
One of the key factors influencing Alpha Phi Alpha’s decision was Florida’s adoption of new education standards that require middle school teachers to instruct students that slaves developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Despite relocating the convention, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. remains committed to supporting the efforts of its members and other advocates fighting against what they see as a continued assault on their communities in Florida by Governor DeSantis.
Governor DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has faced criticism from various quarters, including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, for Florida’s new education standards.
Responding to the criticism, DeSantis maintained that he was “defending” Florida against false accusations and would continue to speak the truth.
Notably, in May, the NAACP, along with other civil rights organizations, issued travel advisories for Florida, citing laws that prohibited diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in state colleges, restrictions on certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses, and laws that impacted immigrants and limited discussions on LGBTQ topics in schools.
Due to Florida’s political climate, at least nine other organizations or associations have also canceled conventions planned for Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, two of the state’s most popular convention cities, as reported by local media.
Florida, being a major tourist destination, relies heavily on tourism as one of its key industries. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the state saw a return to pre-pandemic levels with more than 137.5 million tourists visiting last year, contributing significantly to the state’s economy.