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NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA – (January 25, 2023) – National and local Urban League leaders today called on the Union League of Philadelphia to rescind the award presented yesterday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, calling the choice to honor him an affront to Black Philadelphians that flies in the face of the organization’s own professed goal of inspiring more educated, engaged, and responsible citizens.

“Banning African American studies from Florida’s schools is just the latest and most outrageous salvo in Governor DeSantis’ ongoing campaign to silence Black voices in every aspect of public life,” said Keith Bethel, Chairman of the Board of The Urban League of Philadelphia. “To honor Governor DeSantis is to honor a cynical political strategy that deliberately incites racial resentment and weaponizes white grievance.  It’s a shameful low point for the Union League that must be remedied immediately.”

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial echoed Bethel’s outrage.

“The decision to honor Governor DeSantis is at best staggeringly insensitive, at worst a full-throated endorsement of his pandering to racism, ” Morial said. “By rescinding the award, the Union League can begin to repair the damage its decision has caused and position itself squarely on the side of unity, equality, and inclusivity.”

DeSantis’ efforts to silence Black voices and foment division go far beyond the recent ban on African American studies, the leaders said.  His administration redrew the state’s Congressional districts to wipe away half of its Black-dominated congressional districts.  His “Stop WOKE Act” restricts the discussion of race in the state’s schools and workplaces.

“The cruelty he displayed in luring unsuspecting Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in hopes the townspeople would fail to welcome and shelter them should disqualify him from any honors or accolades,” Morial said.

Patricia Coulter, Interim President & CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, added, “This kind of racial divisiveness has no place in the Philadelphia that I know and love.  We call ourselves the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, and the Union League must show the world we are worthy of that title by rejecting DeSantis’ hateful platform.

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