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55th NAACP Image Awards - Pressroom

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NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson made an announcement this month that Black athletes should refuse to attend predominantly white colleges and universities in Florida, denying the state the tax dollars and other benefits their talents bring.

Why? Because Florida’s policies as signed into law by its governor Ron DeSantis, are hurtful for Black Americans. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have been outlawed in the state, eliminating positions in that area at universities there. Johnson doubled down on his statement in a recent interview with NPR.

He told host Ayesha Rascoe that he believes that Black athletes have a responsibility to refuse to support a state that doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

“It is no reason why a student athlete should attend a public school in the state of Florida where that school simply don’t appreciate who they are, the contributions they can make and the contributions that have been made by individuals in their communities,” Johnson told NPR. “Why should those schools be enriched through college sports from free participation from athletes when those same athletes are not seen as human beings?”

Johnson and the NAACP penned a letter to NCAA president Charlie Baker to express their concerns. In the letter, Johnson argues that, “This imbalance of power and profit demands a response, particularly because these institutions reap considerable financial benefits from the very individuals they fail to stand by in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Johnson also issued a statement on behalf of the organization.

“Florida’s rampant anti-Black policies are a direct threat to the advancement of our young people and their ability to compete in a global economy. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount ensuring equitable and effective educational outcomes. The value Black, and other college athletes bring to large universities is unmatched.

He added, “If these institutions are unable to completely invest in those athletes, it’s time they take their talents elsewhere. The NAACP will remain unwavering in our efforts to hold Governor Ron DeSantis, and all oppressive elected officials accountable for their attempts to unravel our democracy.”

In his interview with NPR, Johnson also made it clear that he hopes the athletes realize their power.

“What they’re saying [in response to the NAACP] is they’re glad that we’re bringing this issue to their attention. They’re opening up their options and looking at other schools. You know, top-rate players have a lot of options. They don’t have to stay in a particular state. They have the pick of the litter. Then you have other players who may not be the highest recruits. You have HBCUs, and you have other institutions.”

For more information on joining the NAACP and its current priorities during the 2024 election year, head to