The NAACP Florida Chapter wants its national board to issue a travel advisory to anyone planning to visit the state in light of recent proposals targeting diversity and racial issues.
At the organization’s state conference on Saturday in Orlando, members proposed asking the national board to issue a travel advisory — especially for people of color.
When the vote came back unanimously, Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis said she felt relief.
“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.”
Lewis said that she was not expecting the vote but wasn’t surprised about it, either.
She said that efforts to strip the rights of Black people have predated this legislative session. They’ve transpired, she said, through voting fraud arrests and wrongful convictions, through redistricting maps that have broken up predominantly Black districts, and through the whitewashing of history in schools.
Lewis said bills that target education are especially painful.
“When slaves tried to educate themselves, they were beaten. When they tried to learn to read, they were killed for having books,” Lewis said. “I have to relate this back because this is how I feel.”
If the NAACP moves forward with action in Florida, it won’t be the first time a travel advisory has been issued for a state.
In 2017, the organization declared a travel advisory for Missouri when the state Legislature passed a law the state chapter had declared allowed for “legal discrimination.”
Lewis said a travel advisory in Florida is just the first step.
She hopes that it brings national attention to what she said is an urgent situation — one in which rights are being stripped and history repeated.
“We can’t go back,” Lewis said. “We’ve come too far to turn around.”
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