Florida Republicans have fired back after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attacked the state with its latest publicity stunt.
NAACP Board of Directors chairman Leon W. Russell lives in Florida, despite his organization issuing a “travel advisory” that warns people not to visit the state.
He lives in the Tampa Bay area.
The Chairman of the Florida GOP, Christian Ziegler, said: “The CHAIRMAN of the @NAACP lives in Tampa, FLORIDA!
“True leadership is being willing to do what you ask others to do… time to step up and MOVE.
“If you think our state is so bad, the @FloridaGOP will help with moving costs.”
Following the backlash, Russell went on MSNBC to try to defend himself.
He said: “First of all, he is full of bull—-.
“Secondly, you need to understand it’s not about money, it’s about people, it’s about humanity.
“Thirdly, quite frankly, we haven’t told anybody to leave.
“In fact, the NAACP is encouraging folks to stay here and fight.
“If there was ever a reason to stand your ground, it’s black people, LGBT community, the immigrant community, women, need to stand our ground in Florida and fight, and understand that that fight is a political fight.
“It’s time to look at policymakers, to see what they are doing, to remember what they’re doing, what the city council, school board, county commission level, or whether they are running for the highest office in the land.
“It’s time for us to understand what their record is and how they’ve operated.”
The CHAIRMAN of the @NAACP lives in Tampa, FLORIDA!
True leadership is being willing to do what you ask others to do… time to step up and MOVE.
If you think our state is so bad, the @FloridaGOP will help with moving costs. https://t.co/fhvaiii9iB pic.twitter.com/5NnhQZyc3P
— Christian Ziegler 🇺🇸 (@ChrisMZiegler) May 21, 2023
The NAACP’s so-called “travel advisory” said:
Today, 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 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.”
“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.
“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.”
The travel advisory was initially proposed to the Board of Directors by NAACP’s Florida State Conference. NAACP’s collective consideration of this advisory is a result from unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms from the Governor and his legislative body.
“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 allow our rights and history to be held hostage for political grandstanding. The NAACP proudly fights against the malicious attacks in Florida, against Black Americans. I encourage my fellow Floridians to join in this fight to protect ourselves and our democracy.”
Following Gov. DeSantis’ so-called leadership in driving the state to reject students’ access to AP African American studies course in March, the NAACP distributed 10,000 books to 25 predominantly Black communities across the state in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers’s Reading Opens the World program.
The majority of the books donated were titles banned under the state’s increasingly restrictive laws.
The NAACP continues to encourage local branches and youth councils to start community libraries to ensure access to representative literature.
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