Dear old Florida, we are yearning. Those words start the “Florida Song.” In 2023, those lyrics go out to all football fans and all HBCU fans. The Orange Blossom Classic is less than two months away and there is strife in the politics of Florida. A series of laws passed by the legislature of Florida, which is Republican-dominated to the tune of a supermajority, has caused angst among both those living in Florida and those who travel to it.
Recently the NAACP has warned against blacks traveling to Florida. Their official release states “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.” The aggressive campaign has been pushed not only in Florida but in several states in the U.S.A.
Have there been policies that seem to target black folks negatively? Yes. Have there been laws pushed through that go against the general values of blacks? Yes. Does it appear that the State of Florida targeted deep issues that leave many blacks feeling like they were specifically targeted? Absolutely.
With that being said, politics and politicians are temporary. While things seem to be bleak for blacks, folks living in Florida are pushing through it. We can’t stop living because of political culture but instead must push through it.
I have heard commercials out of state warning black folks not to travel to Florida. That is a problem. Florida is not much different than it has always been. Many of those laws are cosmetic and some are marred by social and religious beliefs. Most, if not all, were enacted just to bolster the resume of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency in 2024.
One thing that can not get lost is the HBCUs in Florida that need blacks to travel to Florida. In order to continue to support the HBCUs in Florida, FAMU, B-CU, Edward Waters, and Florida Memorial all need blacks to travel to the state.
Kicking things off is probably the biggest HBCU early season game, the Denny’s Orange Blossom Classic between FAMU and Jackson State on Sept. 3 at Hard Rock Stadium. The third installment of the revamped classic will feature two of the SWAC’s top teams and two of the country’s best bands. In the last two years, that game has been the only SWAC loss between either of the two schools with JSU taking a tally of 2-0.
Not only are both schools raking in nearly half a million dollars after expenses, but the game also pumps money into the Miami area for high school educational initiatives. Additionally, the game has been tabbed for ESPN. Not one of the additional ESPN channels, but the “Mothership.” The ESPN flagship channel. If the worldwide leader in sports understands the magnitude of the game, then the fans need to understand as well.
Several fan and family-friendly events are planned and you can go to OrangeBlossomClassic.com and see all the events planned for the weekend. It is one of the most Afrocentric weekends anywhere in the world.
The politics and laws of the Sunshine State are bad, no one is denying that. But, we can not be distracted to the point that we are deterred from making black great!