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Faith leaders question DeSantis over no appointments to civil rights hall of fame

Posted at 9:21 PM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-18 21:21:56-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) — A coalition of local faith leaders urge the governor to continue the tradition of adding civil rights leaders to the state's civil rights hall of fame. The group, including Reverend Dr. R.B. Holmes of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, said he has not appointed anyone since taking office.

"He is saying I have limited appreciation for the struggles of these men and women and I don't want our children to know any more about those who bled and gave their lives," Holmes said.

That's the message Dr. R.B. Holmes said Governor Ron DeSantis sent by not nominating activists to the state's civil rights hall of fame.
It's a tradition established by Florida law in 2010.
It honors Floridians who fought for equal rights.

"Men and women, who bled and died, for diversity, equity and inclusion," Holmes said.

The governor recently signed a bill to remove those principles of diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI from programs in colleges and universities.

The governor said they distract from core curriculum and are discriminatory toward other students.

"DEI is better um viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination and that has no place in our public institutions," DeSantis said.

It's not just faith leaders taking a stand against that idea.

"I am the product of a diversity, equity and inclusion program," Williams-Cox said.

Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tempore Diane Williams-Cox said DE&I programs are needed for her community.

"Being a black, female checks several boxes for several companies," Williams-Cox said. "I have used that for my benefit to make sure others coming behind me got that opportunity."

But Reverend Holmes said the hope for lasting equity in our state and country is not lost.

"We have to raise our voices. Florida is a diverse state. It should not be a divided state," Holmes said.