TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s chapter of the NAACP has voted unanimously to ask the group’s national board to issue a travel advisory telling Black Americans not to enter the state, citing concerns over what they call “anti-black legislation.”
NBC-2 reports the vote—which took place Thursday at a meeting in Orlando—was “in direct response to anti-black legislation” in Florida’s political sphere and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies.
In an interview with the news station, Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil cited recent feuds between DeSantis and the College Board over a new Advanced Placement course focused on African American Studies, as a cause for concern. He said the advisory will “send a message to voters” about what’s happening in Florida, and aims to “prevent DeSantis from becoming president.”
Other bills circulating the Florida legislature have drawn criticism from teachers and advocates who say they’re trying to erase Black history in higher education.
State officials have doubled down on moves to restrict course topics related to critical race theory (CRT). In 2022, the state legislature passed the Stop WOKE Act, a ban on CRT.
A bill filed during the current legislative session would add more restrictions to the law, banning degrees related to CRT, as well as gender studies. A variety of legal challenges have blocked the law’s enactment on university and college campuses, however it is still in effect at Florida’s K-12 public schools.
The political atmosphere regarding race discussions in higher education has also led to some private universities, not impacted by the legislation, making decisions based on the new law.
Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian school, recently terminated the employment of an English professor who taught a racial justice unit. The professor, Dr. Samuel Joeckel, had worked at the school for more than 20 years and taught the course for over a decade. Joeckel directly blamed the state’s “toxic politics” and Gov. DeSantis for his removal.
“We want to educate the voters for the 2024 election,” Muwakkil told NBC-2. “By Black’s not coming here then that’s not on the NAACP’s shoulders — that’s on the governor’s shoulders.”
At a press briefing in Orange Park on Thursday, DeSantis was asked about the NAACP’s decision, and called it “a joke.” He declined to respond to a question about the AP Studies course, and instead pivoted to discussing tourism and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. He called the travel advisory a stunt.
“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. “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.com reached out to local leaders of the NAACP in the Tampa area but were unable to receive additional comments or statements about the proposed advisory.