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NAACP Issues Travel Warning to African Americans on DeSantis’ Florida

On May 20, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory to African Americans warning them on the state of Florida led by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Derrick Johnson
Derrick Johnson

On May 20, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory to African Americans warning them on the state of Florida led by Governor Ron DeSantis. The statement arrives after a series of specific policy actions by Governor DeSantis and Republicans in Florida directed negatively at African Americans. It also arrives the week before DeSantis is expected to announce he is running for President — a move long expected.

“The NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida. The travel advisory comes in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools,” the release, issued on May 20, began.

The formal travel notice states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. 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.”

DeSantis barely won election as Governor of Florida in 2018. He defeated former Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum by only 30,000 votes. Federal prosecutors recently declined to move forward in their attempts to prosecute Gillum after a jury decided not to convict on what Gillum and his supporters assert was a politically motivated prosecution.

Like many other states in the Deep South, Florida has a long history of racist events that reach into modern day news headlines.


Following the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, Florida implemented laws known as Jim Crow laws to enforce racial segregation and maintain white supremacy. These laws aimed to enforce racial segregation in public facilities, transportation, schools, and other areas of society. African Americans faced systemic discrimination and limited access to education, voting rights, and economic opportunities.

In 1923, the predominantly African American town of Rosewood, Florida, was attacked and destroyed by a white mob. The massacre was sparked by false allegations of an assault on a white woman, and it resulted in the death of several African Americans and the forced displacement of the town’s residents. The incident is considered one of the worst of racial violence in Florida’s history.

Like many other southern states, Florida has a history of implementing discriminatory practices to suppress African American voting rights. These practices included poll taxes, literacy tests, and other measures aimed at preventing African Americans from exercising their right to vote. These efforts persisted well into the 20th century and limited Black political representation.


Governor Ron DeSantis appears to many to be channeling the energy of former President Donald Trump in an effort to spike racial fear in white voters by fighting an endless “culture war” that often uses African Americans as a focus of derision.


At the front end of DeSantis’ efforts is a focus on racial history and an effort to erase inconvenient truths about the way African Americans have been treated historically.

“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 NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson in the May 20 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. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation,” Johnson added.

Florida, like other southern states, had racially segregated schools until the mid-20th century. African American students were often provided with inferior facilities, resources, and educational opportunities compared to their white counterparts. The landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 led to the eventual desegregation of schools, but the process was met with resistance and faced significant challenges.

While not an action directly taken by a governor, the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 in Florida gained national attention. The governor of Florida at that time was Rick Scott. The case involved a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Martin, an unarmed African American teenager. The handling of the case and the subsequent trial raised concerns about racial profiling and sparked a national debate about race.


The travel advisory was initially proposed to the Board of Directors by NAACP’s Florida State Conference according to their statement.

“Once again, hate-inspired state leaders have chosen to put politics over people. Governor 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 not allow our rights and history to be held hostage for political grandstanding,” Russell added.

The NAACP continues to encourage local branches and youth councils to start community libraries to ensure access to representative literature in light of banned books by government officials in Florida.

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