Broadway Actress Denée Benton Compared Ron DeSantis To A KKK ‘Grand Wizard’ At The Tony Awards

Ron DeSantis got called out during last night’s Tony Awards as actor Denée Benton slammed the Florida governor for his aggressive education policies, which have targeted everything from so-called “critical race theory” curriculum to the now-infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that’s locked him in a heated battle with Disney.

While saluting the 2023 recipient of the excellence in theater education award, Florida student Jason Zembuch Young of South Plantation High School, Benton noted that she’s also a native of the Sunshine State as she proceeded to refer to DeSantis as a high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Via Variety:

“I’m certain that the current grand wizard — I’m sorry, excuse me, governor of my home state of Florida,” Benton said, to a roar of applause from the crowd at the historic United Palace Theater in Washington Heights. Benton seemed to nod to DeSantis’ legislative push in Florida to enact racist and discriminatory policies restricting school curriculums on American history, among other disturbing moves during his time in office.

The Hollywood Reporter tweeted a video clip of the moment.

In an effort to boost his culture war credentials before entering the 2024 presidential race, DeSantis has been at the forefront of notoriously sweeping education policies that have targeted LGBTQ educators and students as well as strictly limited teaching materials that grapple with America’s racist past and present.

While other red states have attempted similar measures, DeSantis’ administration has been notably successful in jamming through “anti-woke” measures that has made DeSantis a darling with ultra-right conservatives. However, those same conservatives are also extremely loyal to Donald Trump, which has forced DeSantis into awkward positions like denouncing the latest indictment against the former president.

(Via Variety & The Hollywood Reporter)