TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A leading civil rights group, the NAACP, issued a travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, alleging the state “has engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans” and other groups, like women, immigrants and LGBTQ people.
The organization said the move is a “direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”
The NAACP Board of Directors approved the request for a travel advisory from the Florida chapter, which voted unanimously in favor of it in March.
The advisory cites several bills signed by Florida’s governor, including the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” the Constitutional Carry Act, the 6-week abortion ban, and bills curtailing access to gender-affirming healthcare.
“Please be advised that Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the advisory 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 minorities.”
The NAACP’s board also took issue with the Florida Department of Education rejecting a pilot program for an AP African American studies course in January. A letter from state education officials said the course material was “inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
“Let me be clear – failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”
DeSantis responded to the Florida NAACP’s request for a travel advisory in March, calling the decision “a joke.”
“This is the reason why our country goes through all of these…we get involved in all of these stupid fights. This is a stunt to try to do that,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “It’s a pure stunt. And fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that’s fine. But I’m not wasting my time on your stunts. I’m going to make sure that we’re getting things done here.”
WFLA has reached out to the governor’s office for comment on the national NAACP board’s decision.