The NAACP’s recent political stunt targeting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) on behalf of the Democratic Party turned out to be a miscalculated move that ended up backfiring. The organization’s chosen line of attack lacked depth and careful consideration, resulting in embarrassment for the NAACP.
In an attempt to stoke racial tension and animosity towards Governor DeSantis, the NAACP issued a travel advisory that boldly claimed Florida is openly hostile towards African Americans. Moreover, the advisory warned African Americans and people of color of the hostility they might face in Florida because of the state’s sustained, blatant, relentless, and systematic attacks on democracy and civil rights.
In a press release, the civil rights organization declared, “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.”
However, the NAACP underestimated the swift response from Governor DeSantis’ team. They promptly countered by sharing a photograph taken in April 2021 featuring Karen Boykin-Towns, the vice chair of the NAACP board, enjoying her time in Clearwater, FL. This simple act exposed the irony of the NAACP’s claims.
Adding to the irony, Leon Russell, the chairman of the NAACP’s Board of Directors, actually resides in Tampa, Florida. Seizing the opportunity to showcase the irony, Christian Ziegler, Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, lightheartedly offered to assist Leon Russell in relocating from Florida if he believed the state of being as bad as the NAACP claimed. Ziegler tweeted, “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.”
In response to criticism during his appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” Leon W. Russell defended the travel advisory and pushed back against Ziegler’s comments, dismissing them as baseless. Russell emphatically stated that he had not instructed anyone to leave Florida, despite the NAACP’s advisory.
Not only did Ziegler respond, but Christina Pushaw, another member of Governor DeSantis’ team, took to Twitter to mock the advisory, questioning whether it meant there would be no Urban Beach Week—a playful jab highlighting the absurdity of the NAACP’s claims.
Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis brushed off any concerns raised by the NAACP’s formal advisory. His office responded to inquiries from The Independent by stating that the advisory was nothing more than a publicity stunt. The Governor’s spokesperson, Jeremy T Redfern, emphasized the record-breaking tourism in Florida, linking to a press release that showcased the state’s thriving tourism industry.
Overall, the NAACP’s attempt to target Governor DeSantis and cast Florida as openly hostile towards minority communities did not go as planned. Instead, it exposed the lack of substance behind their claims and triggered swift responses that highlighted the irony and inaccuracy of the advisory. Governor DeSantis and his team rightly dismissed the advisory as a mere stunt, focusing on the state’s positive attributes and robust tourism.