Fraternity also decried new curriculum standards
A historically black fraternity relocated its 2025 national conference from Orlando, Florida, citing state policies it claims are harmful to black Americans.
Alpha Pi Alpha moved the conference, its 99th General Convention and 119th Anniversary Convention, “due to Governor Ron DeSantis’ harmful, racist, and insensitive policies against the Black community,” according to a July 26 news 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,” APA General President and biochemist Willis Lonzer stated in the release.
“Earlier this week, the Florida Board of Education approved a controversial new K-12 curriculum for African American history, which erases Florida’s role in slavery and oppression, blames the victims, and declares that African Americans who endured slavery benefitted from the horrific and torturous institution,” it added.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. moves 2025 General Convention from Orlando, FL due to Governor Desantis' harmful, racist, and insensitive policies against the black community.
— Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. ® (@apa1906NETwork) July 26, 2023
DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern told The College Fix on behalf of the governor’s office that the decision to move the conference amounts to a publicity stunt.
Florida’s newly published 2023 academic standards for social studies require state curricula to “examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).”
The requirement includes a “Benchmark Clarification,” requiring instruction in “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The standards also require that curricula “evaluate how conditions for Africans changed in colonial North America from 1619-1776” and “explain how slave codes were strengthened in response to Africans’ resistance to slavery” among other topics.
Vice President Kamala Harris also criticized the “personal benefit” language of the standards, The Fix reported last week.
Harris also claimed the standard required teaching that “enslaved people benefited from slavery.”
In the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery.
They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 24, 2023
William Allen, a black political scientist and former Michigan State University professor, described Harris’s claim as “categorically false.”
“Africans proved resourceful, resilient, and adaptive and were able to develop skills and aptitudes which served to their benefit, both while enslaved and after enslavement,” Allen had said. “People don’t necessarily simply embrace their oppressors when they’re oppressed.”
“They also react adaptively and they find ways to make pathways for themselves, even in the presence of oppression.”
The Fix emailed Alpha Phi Alpha on Tuesday to ask what specific provision of the curriculum “erases Florida’s role in slavery and oppression, blames the victims, and declares that African Americans who endured slavery benefitted from the horrific and torturous institution.”
It has not received a response.
“The Fraternity joins a broad coalition of organizations protesting Florida’s barrage of harmful and discriminatory policies on protests, voting rights, education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to its news release, which also referenced a May 20 NAACP travel advisory “calling the state ‘openly hostile’ to African Americans.”
The advisory cautions travelers to “understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by[,] African Americans and other communities of color.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the conference was relocated to Dallas.
IMAGE: Drake University Fraternity and Sorority Life