On June 1, just three weeks ahead of its 37th annual convention that was set to take place in Miami, Fla., the National Organization of Black County Officials announced it was relocating the 450-person event to Charlotte, N.C., and pushing the event back to mid-October.
According to a statement released by NOBCO, the group will not hold its convention as originally scheduled at the InterContinental Miami from June 21 to 25 “in solidarity with the NAACP's May 20th travel advisory for the State of Florida in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis' aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools...NOBCO has decided to take a principled stance against recent developments in Florida and denounce the actions of the Florida General Assembly and Governor Ron DeSantis that undermine racial equity and social justice.”
NOBCO cited “laws attempt[ing] to turn back the clock on the Black community by restricting the use of Critical Race Theory in public schools and colleges to reveal structural violence to people of color, as well as other divisive measures which pose a threat to the progress made in addressing systemic racism and promoting inclusivity.”
The Director’s Perspective
Milli Moto, CEO and executive director of NOBCO, stated that "moving the NOBCO conference out of Florida is a difficult decision, but it is one that aligns with our core commitment to social justice.” NOBCO’s board of directors added that “we cannot, in good conscience, proceed with our conference in a state that enacts laws detrimental to democracy.”
In a phone interview with MeetingsNet on June 5, Moto said that “Once the NAACP established a stance and put out a national message, we knew we had to do something. The seriousness and urgency of the situation required it. If there is any organization that we stand together with, it is the NAACP.”
Another factor: the timing of the NAACP’s announcement was so close to the event that it created too much uncertainty among participants to proceed. “Our members and many of our speakers are elected or appointed officials, including some from the Biden administration,” Moto noted. “Many of them told us they were considering not going to Florida, and we don’t want to put them in a position that leaves them open to scrutiny. So we began communicating with the InterContinental to come up with an alternate plan, as we had already made a financial commitment to the hotel.”
One possible alternative is to hold the group’s 2024 annual convention at the Intercontinental Miami—even if the specific laws NOBCO objects to are not changed by then. Why? “We will have enough time to collectively come up with messaging, programming, and activities that effectively express how we feel about what the legislation is doing in Florida,” Moto said. “We can make our participants feel more secure to come to Florida, if we choose to meet there.”
Related article: Poll Result: Will NAACP’s Florida Advisory Affect Meetings?