Activism | March 21st, 2023
Florida Protests House Bill 999
By: Destiny Gaines
Just as students were about to begin their spring break, The Desantis Administration brought into action House Bill 999. This bill is set to ban federal funding to promote, support, or maintain campus activities that advocate for diversity, equity, or inclusion. To add, promoting or engaging in political and social activism is set to be permitted.
Raising concerns from numerous organizations, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council, students paused their fun for the fight for their freedom. With over 300 people attending this committee meeting addressing this House Bill, a mob of distressed members in the community decided to visit the Capitol and speak against this controversial bill.
Just months ago, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis supported Florida’s decision to ban the African American studies course. The Desantis Administration explains the course “significantly lacks educational value.” Fast forward to the present day, the continuation of Desantis’ way of erasing relevant moments in American history.
Community Comes Together
On March 13th, Florida’s House Committee Meeting was filled with the state representatives and the frustrated teachers, students, and members of clubs and organizations that were ready to speak on their opposition to the bill.
As someone who attended the session, you felt the tension from the moment you walked into the room. The craving for student advocacy was there, as people were waiting to hear what the senators had to say. Security was on every corner, ready for things to intensify.
State Representative Yvonne Hinson was one of the few that questioned the relevance of this bill. “I am a member of a sorority…How does this impact the Divine Nine and their ability to host social justice events…all of the things they do on campus?”
State Representative Hinson emphasized her confusion about this bill when explained by Representative Alex Andrade.
Strength in Numbers
People traveled from numerous areas of Florida to prove their opposition to House Bill 999. Even students of the NPHC attending Florida A&M University came to address why this is hurtful to all the work their organizations have done for all communities.
“Today, I stand here as a representation of my organization, school, and community speaking on what this bill entails,” said Ahmad Kebe, a Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated member.
Kebe continues by saying that the NPHC serves as a vessel for the diversity, equity, and inclusion that the organizations promote.
“To potentially prohibit the organizations that truly have an impact on its members of the student body and the community is simply unconventional.”
Efforts Go Unheard
Within 30 seconds, angry citizens were limited to speaking about their opposition to House Bill 999. One of the advocates rephrased the bill as “Bill 666,”; referring to its significance to the Devil’s number, as they nicknamed the Florida Gov. “Ron De-Satan.”
After almost two hours of Floridians standing up for their rights, the debate ended with the bill’s passing. Reported favorably, the majority voted yes to the movement of the bill.