Activists rip companies that support Black history while donating to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis, weighing a 2024 bid for the White House, is currently at the forefront of efforts to restrict conversations and teachings on race.

Political activists in Florida are calling out large corporations that claim to support Black history but also have used their resources to donate to the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who backs limits on race and racism teachings.

According to The Guardian, companies including Amazon, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Comcast, General Motors, DoorDash and Walmart are among those that openly state their support of anti-racist ideals, particularly in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

However, analysis from the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit group that examines corporate political expenditures, reveals that these companies gave directly and indirectly to DeSantis’ reelection campaign in 2022.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida wearing a navy jacket and blue tie
Some companies that tout anti-racist ideals have donated to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis despite his efforts against teaching diversity and inclusion. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“These corporations can say that they stand with the Black community but then also fund the governor and his work around dismantling Black history,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Florida-based progressive group Equal Ground, The Guardian reported. “It’s a huge level of hypocrisy.”

Disney, for example, posted to its website that it will celebrate Black stories and highlight memorable moments at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort during Black History Month. The company, nevertheless, made a $50,000 contribution to DeSantis’ reelection campaign — and gave $125,000 to the Florida Republican Party, which supported his campaign and inauguration — early in the election cycle before its relationship with him collapsed.

Despite frequently commemorating Black History Month on its corporate website, the telecommunications firm Charter Communications gave $200,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis political action committee. The company also donated $205,000 to the Republican Governors Association and $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, both significant donors to DeSantis.

“While #BlackHistoryMonth is a time to celebrate the impact of African Americans, our commitment to fostering a culture of diversity, equity & inclusion is year round,” Duke Energy declared via Twitter on Feb. 1, according to The Guardian. The company also donated $2 million to the Florida Republican Party, which supports DeSantis’ efforts to roll back “woke” policies on public health, gender and race.

DeSantis, weighing a 2024 bid for the White House, is currently at the forefront of laws restricting conversations and teachings on race.

Center for Political Accountability president Bruce Freed shared two reasons he believes DeSantis is generating money. 

“One, because he’s the governor of Florida” who was running for a second term, “so you have the whole issue of giving for access,” said Freed, The Guardian reported. Secondly, he added, “you have companies looking to build relationships” with a potential presidential candidate.

Freed said the latter move is fraught with much greater risk, partly because of the positions DeSantis has taken that conflict with company policy positions.

The governor has declared his intention to block public institutions from offering critical racial theory, or CRT, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs. DeSantis signed the “Stop Woke Act” last year, limiting some racial discussions and analysis in workplaces and schools. 

His administration also prohibited a new Advanced Placement African American studies course from being taught in high schools, deeming it historically inaccurate and a violation of state law.

“This man is attempting to be president of the United States,” Burney-Clark said, according to The Guardian. “We could draw the line right now; these corporations had the true capacity and not the performative capacity to do that.”

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