Boycott Florida: An idea whose time has come

Filed under OPINION

DR. RON DANIELS
VANTAGE POINT

In a recent article I called for economic sanctions against Florida to compel business and political leaders in that state to change the “Stand Your Ground Law” that provided the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

There are times when there is a convergence of ideas, a meeting of minds, such that a particular strategy has the potential to galvanize a movement. This appears to be one of those times.

The idea of boycotting Florida is not a Ron Daniels idea or Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) call. Rather, it is one that is on the minds of many Black people all across the country.

Dr. Patricia Newton, president emeritus, National Association of Black Psychiatrists, was so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict that she walked away from a $1 million dollar contract she was about to sign for a conference in Florida.

I met an elderly Black professional couple at Penn Station in Baltimore, who were returning from a conference in Jacksonville. When I asked if they would be going back to Florida next year, I had hardly gotten the words out of my mouth when the wife said that they discussed the murder of Trayvon Martin at the conference and had already resolved that they would not hold another convention in that state until there is significant change.

Celebrities boycott
Of course, music legend Stevie Wonder said at a concert in Canada, “Until the Stand Your Ground Law is abolished, I will never perform there again.” Since his pronouncement Eddie LaVert, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick and Mary Mary are among the artists who have publicly stated they will follow Stevie’s lead.

While celebrities add credibility for the boycott, it will be the actions of the multitude of conscious, committed convention-goers, vacationers and consumers who will make the campaign effective. Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come.

Shut off tourism
The major component of the campaign should be to shut off tourism to Florida. This means Black organizations should not schedule conferences/conventions in that state until the law is changed.

Groups that have already scheduled conferences six months to a year out should seek to cancel the agreements and notify the venues that Black people no longer feel safe to travel to Florida, particularly with their sons. An option is to hold conferences/conventions at a Black College/University or Black owned retreat centers.

In the event that your conference is already scheduled in the next few months, resolve to spend as little money/cash in the state as possible. This campaign requires that kind of discipline.

No vacations
Do not schedule a vacation in Florida until victory is won. Do not travel to an amusement park in the “tragic kingdom” or golf tournament until victory is won. And don’t purchase or drink any Florida orange juice.

IBW has posted a petition on its website www.ibw21.org where organizations, leaders and individuals can sign a pledge to boycott Florida. Finally, while this campaign is spearheaded by Black people, we obviously appeal to and welcome the support of our friends and allies of all races and ethnicities who believe that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” that “an injustice anywhere to anyone is an injustice to everyone everywhere.”

Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century. He can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org.

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