Oldest Black collegiate fraternity receives threats after pulling national convention out of Florida

'Take your dollars where you are received how you desire to be'
Alpha Phi Alpha, Florida, Ron DeSantis
Members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which has moved its 2025 national convention out of Florida because of recent policy changes by Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration. Photo credit Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., is the oldest Black collegiate fraternity. It's been in existence since 1906 and boasts a membership of some 200,000 with 700 chapters across the world.

Because of what it calls 'Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' harmful, racist, and insensitive policies against the Black community', Alpha Phi Alpha is moving its 2025 national convention out of Orlando. According to Alpha's General President Dr. Willis Lonzer III, it's a business move but also a economic protest. According to Lonzer, Alpha's conventions pour approximately $4.6 million dollars into the economy.

The organization has been receiving hate mail, Dr. Lonzer says, since the announcement about it pulling out of Florida. He responds, “We are not going to lay down our sword against Jim Crow. We will strike it down whenever that metaphorical system ever comes up again."

Alpha Phi Alpha, Black fraternities, education
Alpha Phi Alpha held it's 2023 National Convention in Dallas, TX. Pictured l-r are Dr. Herman Skip Mason, 33rd General President of Alpha; Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, Current General President, Mr. Nicholas Johnson (Recently initiated member) with his father Attorney Harry E. Johnson, Sr., 31st General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Photo credit Dr. Skip Mason

On July 19, 2023, the Florida Board of Education approved new standards for how public schools should approach Black history. It includes teaching that some Blacks benefited from slavery because it taught them 'useful skills'.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke against the Florida policy during the recent national convention of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, who is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, said in a statement that the "new standards convey a sanitized and dishonest telling of the history of slavery in America, suggesting that enslaved people developed skills that could be applied for their personal benefit." The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory, telling visitors that Florida has become "openly hostile toward African Americans." In the advisory, Johnson called the actions by the Florida state government, "an attempt to bring our country back to a 19th century America where Black life was not valued, nor our rights protected. It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history. We refuse to go back."

According to Lonzer, "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."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.