Two major Black organizations are relocating their multimillion-dollar annual conferences out of Florida, following a travel advisory from the NAACP. This warning came two months ago, cautioning visitors that Florida has turned “openly hostile toward African Americans” under the guidance of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
Those working for change are hopeful that these relocations will create momentum that has a tangible impact on the 2024 elections.
A Miami-based civil rights and criminal law attorney, Melba Pearson, said that she hopes that the outcry and loss of revenue will cause the repeal of the terrible bills passed in recent years. We wish that voters will make informed decisions in upcoming elections now that they see these harmful laws’ effect on their neighbors, friends, and communities.
The intercollegiate Black fraternity of Alpha Phi Alpha is the largest and oldest in the U.S., and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), one of the most extensive student-run organizations in the country, have both decided to move their conferences, initially scheduled for Florida in 2025 and 2024, to different states. They cited the potential for a “hostile” atmosphere for their members.
Alpha Phi Alpha announced last week that they will find a new location for their 119th-anniversary convention in 2025, citing DeSantis’s “damaging, racist, and insensitive policies against the Black community.” The event was expected to bring in $4.6 million in economic impact. Famous members of the fraternity include Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, David Dinkins, and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.
General President Willis L. Lonzer III of Alpha Phi Alpha stated, “Although we are moving our convention from Florida, we will continue to back the firm advocacy of Alpha Brothers and others fighting against the ongoing attacks on our communities in Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis.”
NSBE, celebrating its 50th anniversary, also concluded that Florida did not provide sufficient safety and the desired “membership experience” for such an important event. National chair Avery Layne told Yahoo News, “We determined that Florida’s environment is not what we want as the setting for our 50th annual convention.”
Layne added that the travel advisory aimed to inform people about the situation in Florida, enabling them to make educated decisions on where to host their conferences and spend their money. The conference organizers have taken a more positive approach in their assessment and made their decisions.