Alpha Phi Alpha believes others will follow its lead and pull events from Florida over ‘racist’ policies

Alpha president Willis Lonzer III predicts that Orlando will lose at least $15 million in revenue from the absence of the Alphas' 2025 convention.

The nation’s oldest Black fraternity decided to pull its 2025 convention out of Florida to protest the state’s “racist” policies, and it anticipates other groups will do the same.

Florida’s approval of a new school curriculum that included lessons suggesting that some Black people benefited from slavery was a key factor in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s choice to ditch the state for its convention, NBC News reported.

Since then, the fraternity’s general president, Willis L. Lonzer III, stated that representatives from the other eight Black fraternities and sororities, as well as heads of other groups, have gotten in touch to express their support for the Alphas and their commitment to refraining from planning any further events that would generate a significant amount of revenue for Florida.

Alpha Phi Alpha moves national convention from Florida
Willis Lonzer (above), the general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of consistently pushing for laws that negatively impact Black people. He believes other organizations will follow the fraternity’s lead and pull their events from Florida. (Photo: Screenshot/ Phi Alpha Social Media)

“This is a multi-pronged armamentarium that we have to provide to attack racial prejudice and policies that are white supremacist in nature,” said Lonzer, NBC reported. “We have here a situation where Jim Crow has morphed from what it was 40, 50 years ago. And we’re in the process of developing new tactics to attack this.”

Alpha Phi Alpha leaders initially opted to keep their plans to convene in Florida, with Lonzer asserting they aren’t afraid to travel into controversial territories. But they changed course, calling out the state’s governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.

“We saw in many respects that Gov. DeSantis has continued to push policies harmful to Black people, to brown people, and marginalized communities in Florida,” added Lonzer.

Prior to the Alphas’ decision, the National Society of Black Engineers withdrew its planned convention from Orlando last month with intentions to move it to Atlanta in March for the same reasons the fraternity mentioned. 

DeSantis has declared Florida the place where “woke goes to die.” 

In January, his administration announced that it would prevent teaching a new Advanced Placement African American Studies course in public high schools. The 2024 presidential contender has also banned the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and made a point of opposing policies some people perceive as being anti-gay or anti-immigration.

The Black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi held its national conclave in Tampa in July since it had been pre-organized and funded. 

Just before their convention, the Kappas issued a statement in which they joined other groups “in solidarity against insensitive, discriminatory, and racist policies being promoted in the State of Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies.” 

The fraternity Omega Psi Phi intends to travel to Tampa in July 2024 for its national conclave. Several of its members said it has been a topic of controversy inside Omega, but leaders have not yet made plans to move it.

Lonzer has pledged to take more aggressive action when he takes over as chairman of the Council of Presidents, representing the Black fraternities and sororities known as the Divine Nine, in September. 

He predicts that Orlando will lose at least $15 million in revenue from the absence of the Alphas’ convention, asserting that Florida has “blown an opportunity” for money in the city and statewide with its laws.

“This thing with the Alphas is saying a lot,” said Black Orlando resident James Strickland, according to NBC. “I hope other groups follow them because it’s really embarrassing to say I live in Florida. I’m glad the Alphas pulled out their convention. It hurts my community, but the only way to get people to listen is to hit them in the pockets.”

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