MIAMI, Fla. – The Fla. NAACP and Fla. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis clashed over his controversial laws when the civil rights organization decided to lead a boycott, asking Black people living outside of Fla. to avoid the state if they have vacation or relocation plans.
At the organization’s Fla. state conference in Orlando, the group voted unanimously to float the boycott also known as a travel advisory to protest DeSantis’ Stop W.O.K.E. law which prohibits classroom instructions that could make students feel responsibility, guilt or anguish for what other members of their race did in the past.
Black leaders criticized the act because they suggested it was designed to alter Black culture and Black history.
"In response to the Fla. Governor’s racist, anti-Black, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the NAACP Fla. State Conference voted unanimously to request that the NAACP National Board of Directors declare a travel advisory for Black and marginalized people traveling to the state of Fla.," said the NAACP in a statement after the conference.
The Fla. chapter of the NAACP says DeSantis’ policies have made the state so inhospitable it wants the national organization to issue a travel warning that advises people not to move or travel to the Sunshine state.
The Fla. NAACP is warning Blacks that the governor is putting a bullseye on their backs.
“What a travel advisory is that it allows us the NAACP to warn other Blacks across the country to not come to Florida, not send their children to Florida, not vacation in Fla. if you’re Black,” James Muwakkil, the Lee County NAACP branch President said during the conference.
DeSantis called the NAACP’s call for a boycott a joke and ridiculed the travel advisory.
“What a joke,” the governor said after signing several bills into law in Orange Park, responding to a reporter’s question about the NAACP boycott. “What a joke. Yeah, we’ll see, we’ll see how effective that is.”
DeSantis said the NAACP is pulling a stunt and he won’t waste his time worrying about the travel advisory.
“This is a stunt to try to do that. 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," DeSantis said.
Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis said the travel advisory is alerting Blacks they will endure unfair treatment in Florida due to DeSantis’ contentious laws.
“We are an organization that protects people’s civil rights, and this is a first step to doing that,” Lewis said. “People are seeing what’s happening in Florida. They’re paying attention, and I hope that help is coming.”
DeSantis said the boycott will not be effective because Florida is a major tourism hub, as millions of people visit the Sunshine State to enjoy the beaches among the many amenities the state has to offer.
DeSantis said Fla. was the most visited state during the COVID-19 pandemic because of less restrictions. “They would end up being spotted on the beach somewhere vacationing," DeSantis said.
The boycott is the first move by the NAACP since it launched a movement with two of the nation’s largest teachers unions two weeks ago to fight against DeSantis’ Stop W.O.K.E. law.
The NAACP also opposes a proposed bill inspired by the governor in the 2023 Legislative Session that would eliminate courses in diversity, inclusion and equity (DI&E) at Florida’s public universities and colleges.
Minority students across the state are protesting the ban on DI&E programs including Black fraternities and sororities that could be impacted if the proposal becomes law.
State Senator Shervin Jones, a Democrat from West Park, said he applauds students for standing up to DeSantis over his controversial law.
Jones said teachers and college administrators are afraid to speak out against the ban on the programs because the governor may retaliate likened to Disney.
"They can fire teachers and the administrators, but they can’t fire students or take funding away from them," Jones said. "This is the perfect time for students all across the state of Florida and across the country, to organize and push back on the policies being pushed. Our students have more power than they think."