Protesters in Philadelphia turned purple Tuesday at the thought of one of the nation’s most prominent red state governors coming into their deep-blue state to receive an award.
The Union League, which was founded in 1862 and awarded its first gold medal in 1863 to then-President Abraham Lincoln, this year honored Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, sending protesters into orbits of anger, according to Newsweek. On its website, the Union League said it was “founded in 1862 as a patriotic society to support the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln.”
According to the Union League Heritage Center, the medal is “to be conferred on men who were regarded as deserving well of their country.”
There are countless millions of Americans who think that describes DeSantis, especially the Florida voters who handed him a sweeping re-election victory in November.
But progressives in Philadelphia don’t agree.
On Tuesday, activist Melissa Robbins portrayed DeSantis as the arch-enemy of black Americans, according to The Philadelphia Tribune, a historically black newspaper.
“Gov. DeSantis wishes to completely sanitize our country, our classrooms, [and our] college lecture halls of black history. Black history is American history. We cannot and we will not ignore the horrific atrocities that (have) occurred against our black ancestors on American soil,” she said.
“It is the same continued attempts to denigrate, criminalize and demonize black bodies daily. The ground on which we stand is saturated with the blood of our ancestors, and we will not stand aside as leaders of the Union League, DeSantis and his supporters point black people towards subjugation,” she said.
Protesters seized on the fact that Florida has rejected an Advanced Placement course on African-American studies from its schools.
“This is a disgrace. It is wrong. It is a smack in the face of the people of this city. How are you going to honor someone in a city that is 44 percent African-American, and he has determined that an AP course on African American history has no educational value? That is not acceptable,” Rev. Alyn E. Waller of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church said, according to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
I attended a protest/press conference today outside the Union League of Philadelphia to denounce the organization’s plan to honor Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tonight. pic.twitter.com/H4IzcESefX
— Kenyatta Johnson (@CouncilmemberKJ) January 25, 2023
DeSantis on Monday said the course had a “political agenda,” according to CNN.
“That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” he said.
The Florida Department of Education had said it was concerned over portions of the course that dealt with reparations for slavery, what CNN called “the Movement for Black Lives” and black feminism. Florida has banned teaching critical race theory in its schools.
DeSantis said the course was not within the parameters allowed by Florida law.
“We want to do history, and that’s what our standards for black history are. It’s just cut-and-dried history. You learn all the basics you learn about the great figures, and you know, I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history,” he said.
“You know, we have history in lots of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn’t easy and they all deserve to be taught. But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that’s somehow a fact? No, no, that’s not appropriate,” he said.
But protesters in Philadelphia said that, for that, DeSantis deserves to be fought tooth and nail, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.
“How dare they? How dare they decide to give this man this award. This is ridiculous. This is not acceptable. … We need to let them know that we will not stand for this nonsense. If you come in Philadelphia and act crazy, we’ll meet you with the same energy,” Philadelphia City Councilwoman Sharon Vaughn said, according to the newspaper.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.