Photo by Danielle J. Brown/Florida Phoenix
In a Feb. 1 Facebook post lamenting the anti-education actions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis -- "He wants to end diversity programs, control what is taught like Black History, poll the political view of professors, students and presidents, fire presidents he disagrees with like New College" -- the late great Steve Uhlfelder ended what was one of his last posts with a challenge to all, "I am not going to sit on the sidelines and watch this happen. Neither should you. Where is the outrage!"
We are so pleased to see the people of Florida starting to show that outrage on Wednesday, Feb. 15. An outrage that is so justified against a wannabe autocrat who is doing all he can to force Florida's students to think the way he thinks and to take away civil rights that Black students and people like Steve Uhlfelder, a former regent of the state university system, have been fighting to win and keep for 60 years. An outrage so necessary to stop a growing DeSantis absolutism in Florida government and academia.
An outrage 1,000 protesters strong and led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and dozens of pastors from across Florida as they marched in Tallahassee to protest DeSantis’ decision to ban the Advanced Placement African American studies class in Florida.
Black activists and political strategists said the march was a first step toward highlighting the particular danger they say DeSantis and his anti-woke movement pose to civil rights and the movement to tackle racism as a systemic issue, according to The Washington Post. DeSantis’s political strategy is even more rooted in racial division than Trump’s, they say.
“I think a lot of people are recognizing that Donald Trump, yes, was a danger, but now they recognize that the way Ron DeSantis has been governing, and the way he was able to win two elections in Florida, it’s time to sound the alarm,” said Nina Smith, a Democratic strategist who is Black and was a senior adviser to Stacey Abrams’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in Georgia last year. Smith calls DeSantis “the evolution of Donald Trump.”
But Sharpton, in one of his typical fiery speeches, delivered just outside the Florida Capitol, turned that description into derision -- "baby Trump," according to Florida Phoenix.
“That is his new name, baby Trump,” Sharpton said. “We got together, Black, Latino, women, LGBTQ, and we beat big Trump. We will beat baby Trump.”
And it's essentially the same plan for beating DeSantis in 2024 if he indeed decides to run for president. The Rev. William J. Barber II, a veteran civil rights leader, told The Post that instead of “meeting DeSantis on his terms,” he and other advocates want to challenge DeSantis beyond his record on race, by linking the concerns of Black Floridians to struggles facing a cross-section of Americans.
In other words, no one sits on the sidelines. We need all of our shared outrage in this fight.