NAACP National President Derrick Johnson

NAACP National President Derrick Johnson

The state of Missouri is no longer the only state with an NAACP travel advisory warning impacting its tourism industry.

The NAACP on Saturday issued a travel advisory for Florida over Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity and inclusion programs" in the state's schools, the organization said in a statement.

"We are witnessing firsthand how he's governing, and he's governing to a small vocal minority of the community, not the majority interest of Florida," NAACP National President Derrick Johnson said on Monday.

"Nor is he governing towards a future of Florida, which will not look like the small minority that he's speaking to in this moment."

Johnson told The Grio on Tuesday the travel memo is an advisory, and not a Florida travel ban.

“We can’t abandon Floridians.”

However, if one must visit the state, he says, “Go in mind with support of the Black community; engage civically and pass out banned books.”

“Race is being used as a powerful tool” in the current political climate in Florida, Johnson said.

The Missouri chapter of the NAACP had issued an advisory in 2017, urging Black people “to travel with extreme CAUTION” because “race, gender and color based crimes have a long history” in the state.

The advisory came three years after the killing of Michael Brown, a Black teenager, by a white police officer sparked days of unrest in Ferguson.

“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” Johnson and the NAACP said in the Saturday release.

“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 communities of color.”

Johnson said in a statement that "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."

Under 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," Johnson added.

The NAACP’s collective consideration of the advisory is a result from unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms from the Governor and his legislative body, the organization asserted.


Following DeSantis’ ordering the state to reject students’ access to AP African American studies course in March, the NAACP distributed 10,000 books to 25 predominantly Black communities across the state in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers’ Reading Opens the World program.


In addition to being one of the leading voices against Critical Race Theory, DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act, restricting how schools and workplaces can address race, gender and sexual identity; banned an advanced placement African American studies pilot program from running in schools; and prohibited colleges and universities from spending public funds on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.


The organization said in the release that it has encouraged all Florida residents to join the effort to defeat the “regressive policies of this Governor and this state legislature.”


“Once again, hate-inspired state leaders have chosen to put politics over people. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida have engaged in a blatant war against principles of diversity and inclusion and rejected our shared identities to appeal to a dangerous, extremist minority,” said Chair of the NAACP Board of Directors, Leon Russell.


“We will not allow our rights and history to be held hostage for political grandstanding,” Russell stated.

“The NAACP proudly fights against the malicious attacks in Florida, against Black Americans. I encourage my fellow Floridians to join in this fight to protect ourselves and our democracy.

"Anybody that has been following what's been happening in Florida understands that it's essentially become a hostile territory for Black people in the state," said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter, an organization dedicated to community organizing.

In a statement, Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) said the NAACP's advisory was not a surprise because Black Americans are "absolutely less safe" under DeSantis's administration.

“His dangerous agenda not only hurts people in our communities, but also harms our state's economy, tourism, and local small businesses. When we have major employers pulling events and development out of the state in response to DeSantis's embrace of right-wing authoritarianism, that hurts all of us."

The national NAACP says the Missouri travel advisory was the first ever issued by the organization, at the state or national level.

Missouri’s advisory was issued after Senate Bill 43 – which makes it more difficult for employees to prove their protected class, like race or gender, directly led to unlawful discrimination – passed through the Missouri Legislature in June 2017. Then Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who would later resign in disgrace, signed it into law soon after.

The NAACP also advocated for a boycott of South Carolina in 1999 when the state continued to fly the Confederate flag over its statehouse. It took 15 years for that boycott to be lifted.

The NNPA Newswire contributed to this report.

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