Is Florida safe for Black people? Some at NAACP say it isn’t and want a travel advisory

MIAMI – A group of civil rights activists in Florida is urging Black people around the country to avoid visiting or moving to their state, and they want a recognizable travel advisory.

Earlier this month, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Florida State Conference voted unanimously in favor of asking the national organization to issue a travel advisory.

Gov. Ron DeSantis quickly dismissed the effort as a waste of time and a stunt.

“What a joke! Yeah, we will see how effective that is,” DeSantis recently said.

Leon W. Russell, the chairman of the NAACP board of directors, welcomed the Florida State Conference’s effort and he released a statement saying the vote was indicative of how “egregious” DeSantis’s policies to restrict Black History education were.

“Any attempt to intentionally erase or misrepresent Black History is a direct attack on the foundation of comprehensive education. Be clear - Black history is American history,” Russell said.

Adora Obi Nweze, the chair of the NAACP Florida State Conference, also released a statement that was critical of what she referred to as an effort to eradicate the historical contributions of Black Americans.

“There is no ‘feel good’ version of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced or continue to face. 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,” Obi Nweze said.

Daniella Pierre, the president of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, said she was part of the March 18 conference in Orlando and she supports the travel advisory.

“We are cautioning people, when they come here, you are going to experience what we are experiencing,” Pierre said. “Anytime there are policies that are going to be put in place that are going to impact and disrupt the quality of life of Black people and all people of color, we take that very seriously.”

The activists also pointed to the modification of proposed AP African-American History courses, the push to do away with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs as reasons for the advisory, and the redrawing of the state’s Congressional maps.

In 2017, after the Missouri NAACP issued a travel advisory to warn visitors that their civil rights could be violated if they entered the state, the national convention of the NAACP officially recognized it. That same year, the ACLU issued an alert for Texas after a state law was passed to allow police officers to check on drivers’ immigration status.

“This is not a stunt or a joke for the NAACP,” Pierre said referring to DeSantis’s public remarks.

The NAACP’s review and approval of resolutions this year begins in May and ends in July.

About the Authors:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.