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'What a joke': DeSantis responds to Florida NAACP's travel advisory pursuit

10 Investigates was the first to report the Florida NAACP's unanimous vote requesting a travel advisory in wake of policies and legislation targeting racial issues.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis reacted to a story 10 Investigates was the first to break, calling the Florida NAACP's pursuit of a travel advisory for the state a "joke."

"What a joke – what a joke. Yeah, we'll see how effective that is," he said during a news conference at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park.

In response to the governor's comment, Hillsborough NAACP President Yvette Lewis said it is, "'a joke' that all of the United States is hearing."

10 Investigates first reported on Tuesday the Florida NAACP Florida State Conference voted unanimously over the weekend to ask its national office for approval to issue a travel advisory in the wake of recent policies and legislation targeting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

One of the bills, HB 999, in its current form would ban certain courses on gender studies and race. Some in higher education contend that DEI courses are an invaluable learning tool. Should the law pass, certain majors like women's studies and any subject surrounding critical race theory would be eliminated as well. The bill is headed to the State Senate for approval.

"We would issue this to anyone who is thinking of coming to Florida, thinking of sending their children to school — anyone planning to breathe in Florida," Florida NAACP legislative affairs chair Marsha Ellison told 10 Investigates earlier this week. "We want people to be 'woke.'"

DeSantis called the request for an advisory "ridiculous."

"It's a pure stunt," he said. "And fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that's fine. Look, I – I'm not wasting my time on your stunts, OK? I'm going to make sure that we're getting things done here and we're going to continue to make this state a great state."

The push for the travel advisory is also in response to the state's rejection of an Advanced Placement African American Studies course. In a letter, the state said it "lacks educational value."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Black history is taught in Florida schools as its part of the core curriculum, but called the proposed AP African American Studies course "indoctrination, not education."

The College Board fired back against the Florida Department of Education calling their characterization of course materials “slander” and said it is politically motivated.

The NAACP is expected to make a decision in May on whether to issue the travel advisory.

If approved, this would not be the first NAACP travel advisory. It first issued one in 2017 after Missouri passed legislation that raised civil rights concerns.

Emerald Morrow is an investigative reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@10tampabay.com.

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