The Rev. Lowman Oliver organised demonstrations for civil rights and racial justice across Florida back in 1960 to create a state that he believed was fair and equitable for African Americans. With hundreds of Black leaders, Oliver returned to Florida’s state Capital, long after the 75-year-old thought his days of protesting were gone, to issue a stern warning about the person he feels is reversing that progress.
Orlando neighbourhood emeritus pastor Oliver urged the audience to use caution because if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is treating one set of minorities unfairly, he will treat all minorities unfairly as well. Black political activists and strategists are uniting, protesting, and strategizing around the nation to call attention to the unique threat that DeSantis (R) and his anti-“woke” movement, in their opinion, pose to civil rights and efforts to address racism as a systemic issue.
They claim that racism is more of a driving force behind DeSantis’ political approach, and they make the claim that they are committed not to repeating what they perceive to be a delayed and half-hearted response. These Black leaders see the recent Florida decision to deny the adoption of an AP African American history course as a continuation of a pattern of disrespecting their community and passing laws that infringe on their liberties. Some of the AP curricula on topics like reparations and the Black Lives Matter movement have been criticised by state officials as “woke indoctrination.”
Black Democratic strategist Nina Smith said, “I believe a lot of people are understanding that Donald Trump, yes, was a threat, but now they recognise that the way Ron DeSantis has been leading and the way he was able to win two elections in Florida, it’s time to sound the alarm. Smith refers to DeSantis as “the evolution of Donald Trump,” the focus of Democrats’ fear and animosity for so long.
The governor of Florida has allegedly expanded the requirements for teaching African American history in schools, according to Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for DeSantis’ office. Additionally, he mentioned DeSantis’ resistance to the AP history course and asserted that DeSantis had given financing to Florida’s historically Black institutions and schools priority. Who would dispute the significance of queer theory in Black history? DeSantis commented at a press conference.
The concerns brought up by black leaders and activists go far beyond DeSantis’s vision for education, which includes restricting racial material in textbooks and worker training and suspending funding for state institutions’ “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programmes.
Florida is a Southern state with a long history of racial persecution. Al Lawson, the first Black representative in that region since Reconstruction, who resigned from Congress after his district was eliminated, said that DeSantis “has not done a great job to restore confidence that he represents all the people in the state of Florida, especially African Americans and people of colour.” African-American voters support the Democratic Party in Florida and around the country.
Nonetheless, according to exit polls from the midterm elections, Black voters chose to back Democrat Charlie Crist over Republican Ron DeSantis by an 86 to 13 per cent margin. Trump did only slightly better in 2020 when exit polls predicted he would win 10% of Black voters in Florida.
Democrats in her Black family are backing the governor despite his attempts to restrict discussions about LGBTQ issues in schools, which conservatives have defended as a matter of “parental rights,” according to Moms for Liberty organiser Quisha King. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of Democratic parents, Black people were the least likely to agree that children should be taught in schools that a person’s gender identification might differ from their sex assigned at birth. According to King, many African families in Florida support the governor DeSantis’ initiatives. Using critical race theory as one of their justifications, Florida officials rejected the new AP African American studies course, a decision that drew condemnation from around the nation.
Democrats assert that DeSantis’ ethnicity will strengthen their base of support and ultimately show weakness with moderate voters.
If continued uncertainty about whether DeSantis runs for the White House or not emboldens more people to jump into the race, that may end up helping Trump.
In an interview before the march, veteran civil rights activist The Rev. William J. Barber II said that instead of “meeting DeSantis on his terms,” he and other activists want to challenge DeSantis beyond his record on race by relating the struggles of Black Floridians to those faced by a cross-section of Americans.
Leslie Mac, a digital strategist for the North Carolina Democratic Party whose clients include the Movement for Black Lives, said she anticipates that organisations would work together to develop a comprehensive message about how DeSantis’s policies harm a range of historically disenfranchised groups. Black Democratic donors have been “chattering” more frequently recently that DeSantis poses a serious threat, according to Democratic strategist and fundraiser Akilah Ensley.
Ensley added, “He doesn’t act stupid, and that makes people nervous. “If he can accomplish this at the state level, what will happen if he opens Pandora’s box at the federal level?”
Some people are getting anxious about the waiting game because they believe DeSantis’ political momentum has waned.