NAACP Advises Against Visiting Florida Over ‘Hostile’ DeSantis Policies; Governor Slams Move as a ‘Stunt’

The NAACP issued a travel advisory that discouraged tourists from visiting Florida as a form of protest for GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’ policies, which the group claims are “hostile to black Americans” — only days before he’s predicted to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential nomination. 

“On a seeming quest to silence African-American voices, the Governor and the State of Florida have shown that African Americans are not welcome in the State of Florida,” said the travel advisory released Saturday. 

“Due to this sustained, blatant, relentless, and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP hereby issues a travel advisory to African Americans and other people of color regarding the hostility towards African Americans in Florida,” added the group. 

The statement cited several controversial policies enacted by DeSantis, including a law he approved last Monday that blocked colleges from spending public funds on inclusion, diversity, and equity efforts. 

The governor of Florida also signed the WOKE Act, which curbs how schools can discuss race during required instruction or training, and blocked an Advanced Placement African American Studies course in the public schools in the state because he said it was lacking “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,” said CEO and President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson 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,” added Johnson.

Johnson urged people to join the NAACP’s “battle for the soul of our nation.”

The group noted that black students make up 23% of Florida’s public school population. 

“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,” said the advisory. 

Governor DeSantis also signed the “Parental Rights in Education” law banning students in grades K-3 from receiving classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation, which critics brand “Don’t Say Gay.”

The GOP governor said discussing gender identity, and sex is inappropriate for young students. The governor defended the law against separate or explicit diversity instruction.

“DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination,” said DeSantis during the bill signing.

Governor DeSantis criticized the proposed travel advisory

Governor DeSantis criticized the proposed travel advisory when the NAACP Florida chapter requested that national leaders take it up in March. 

“What a joke,” said DeSantis. “Yeah, we’ll see, we’ll see how effective that is.”

“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 status,” added DeSantis. 

The Sunshine State is a magnet for tourism and is one of the state’s most crucial industries. According to Florida’s tourism agency, 137.6 million visitors visited last year. 

According to the agency, visitors to the state contributed $101.9 billion to the economy of Florida and supported more than 1.7 million jobs in the state. 

Amid the NAACP attack, painting DeSantis as racially intolerant, the anti-Florida travel advisory may incite conservative Republicans to rally around him as he takes on former President Donald Trump in the Republican primary. 

In an email to the New York Post, Governor DeSantis’ spokesman Jeremy Redfern wrote, “This is a stunt,” before forwarding a GIF of DeSantis calling it a stunt. 

Christina Pushaw, the governor’s political aide, also posted on Twitter Sunday morning to mock the NAACP’s advisory. 

“Does this mean no Urban Beach Week?” wrote Pushaw, along with “Keep the travel advisories coming. It’s hard enough to get a dinner reservation in this [Miami] town.”