Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville. DeSantis used the event to sign bills into law that increase penalties for offenses involving sexual battery on children and drug trafficking targeting children, and a third bill involving pretrial release and detention.
Paul Hennessy | Lightrocket | Getty Images
The NAACP on Saturday issued a travel advisory for Florida over Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity and inclusion programs” in the state’s schools, the organization said in a statement.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “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.”
The advisory comes after DeSantis’ administration in January blocked an Advanced Placement course in African American Studies from being offered in Florida high schools. In a letter to the College Board rejecting the course, the administration said: “As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement that “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.”
Under 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,” Johnson added.
The College Board, a nonprofit organization that oversees the AP program nationwide, moved to revise its framework for the curriculum after state officials said they rejected it because of six areas of concern — “Black Queer Studies,” “Intersectionality,” “Movement for Black Lives,” “Black Feminist Literary Thought,” “The Reparations Movement” and “Black Struggle in the 21st Century” — and for its including works by Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, bell hooks, Angela Davis and other Black authors.
Although the College Board and many of the academic experts consulted about the course framework insisted that they would not cave to political pressure and that the revisions had long been planned, the changes made concessions that directly address conservatives’ concerns. The revised syllabus removed the names of several Black authors identified as problematic by Florida officials, substantially revised sections about intersectionality and removed a section about the Movement for Black Lives.
The NAACP’s travel advisory for Florida was initially proposed to the board of directors by the organization’s Florida State Conference, which voted unanimously in favor of it in March.
DeSantis, who is expected to soon launch a 2024 presidential campaign, has made education and other social issues a large focus of his administration. Last year, he signed into law legislation dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which restricts how race and gender are discussed in classrooms.
DeSantis’ office and the NAACP did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the travel advisory.
The Missouri chapter of the NAACP had issued an advisory in 2017, urging Black people “to travel with extreme CAUTION” because “race, gender and color based crimes have a long history” in the state. The advisory came three years after the killing of Michael Brown, a Black teenager, by a white police officer sparked days of unrest in Ferguson.