‘No Way a Stunt': Civil Rights Group Urges Black Community Against Visiting, Moving to Florida

Black activists in Florida have called out Gov. Ron DeSantis, citing that his policies are whitewashing Black history education and diversity and inclusion.

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The Florida chapter of the NAACP voted unanimously earlier this month to ask the national NAACP to issue a travel advisory, urging the Black community against visiting or moving to the Sunshine State.

“This is by no means and in no way a stunt. We take this very seriously," said the president of the NAACP Miami-Dade branch Daniella Pierre, who was in Orlando and voted in favor of the move. "Based on the legislative attacks that we have seen, it called on us to take this action as putting out a request for a travel advisory."

Pierre is among a group of Black activists in Florida who have called out Gov. Ron DeSantis, citing that his policies are whitewashing Black history education and diversity and inclusion. That includes proposed changes to AP African American History courses among other issues they've found problematic with the governor's administration. The major move is aimed at urging the Black community to avoid visiting or moving to Florida.

Black leaders in South Florida reacted to the news. 

"In the case of Florida, unfortunately, we’ve seen a number of bills this legislative session that have targeted people of color," said Melba Pearson, director of prosecution projects at FIU and Legal Redress Chair NAACP South Dade Branch. "This is another way to raise awareness and hopefully get changes in policy so that people of color can feel welcome wherever they decide to go and spend their hard-earned dollars."

“We as a Black chamber fight each and every day for economic and social transformation in our community and this is about economic and social transformation, so what we have to do is to come together and come up with a game plan that is strategic and is going to make sense for our community," said G. Eric Knowles, the president of the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce. 

In the past, DeSantis has dismissed this effort, calling it a joke.

“You actually had somebody in Congress claim that Duval County Schools does not allow books about Rosa Parks, and he pointed to a book, and he said I searched for that, they did not have this book," he said during a Q&A session Tuesday. "The school system actually responded on social media and said, well we have 14 other books about Rosa Parks, we just didn’t have that one because you have to make choices about what you do, but they were trying to do a narrative of how somehow that would not be appropriate in Florida schools, which is absurd."

In a statement, NAACP Florida State Conference Chair Adora Obi Nweze posed a question to DeSantis.

"Our question to Governor DeSantis is, 'What sort of future are you fostering for Black Americans throughout Florida while eradicating our historical contributions to this nation?' There is no 'feel good' version of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced or continue to face," Nweze said. "Slavery, Jim Crow and lynchings followed by ongoing school segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality, housing discrimination, health care disparities, and wage gap are all tough truths to face. Misrepresenting the reality of our history promotes ignorance and apathy."

According to NAACP bylaws, the travel advisory recommendation has to be formally submitted as a resolution. The organization's review of resolutions begins in May and ends in July. 

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