ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Two black organizations are taking their conventions out of Florida in response to the state’s new standards for teaching African American history.
Alpha Phi Alpha – the country’s oldest and largest intercollegiate black fraternity – and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) both announced they will move future national conventions out of Florida. The events were scheduled for 2024 and 2025; both were set to take place in Orlando.
Late last month, Florida’s newly released African American history curriculum came under fire over a sentence that argued that some black Americans benefited from “skills” they obtained as slaves.
Alpha Phi Alpha General President Willis L. Lonzer III declared that Governor Ron DeSantis’ “harmful, racist, and insensitive policies” amounted to an “assault on our communities.”
“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,” Lonzer said in a press release.
Subsequent media coverage has suggested the revenue loss serves as a significant loss to the state – an insinuation that does not appear to be shared by the governor’s office.
“A MEDIA-DRIVEN STUNT”
“This is nothing more than a media-driven stunt,” DeSantis’ Deputy Press Secretary Alex Lanfranconi said of the relocated events.
“As Governor DeSantis announced in May, Florida is experiencing record tourism, with the Q1 2023 having the largest volume of visitors during a single quarter in recorded history,” Lanfranconi added.
“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida’s economy is booming, with Florida being the fastest growing state and having the largest net domestic in-migration. Just recently, CNBC ranked Florida number one as the best economy in the nation.”
On Thursday, Lanfranconi highlighted in a seemingly ironic tweet that “the curriculum DOES teach about HBCU's and African American fraternal and sororal organizations, such as Alpha Phi Alpha.”