Stay Woke Florida’ Bus Tour Protest Kicks Off in Jax

Shown l-r are supporters Marcus Arbery, Sr. and Darryl Jones

By Michelle Vecerina (Florida Voice) –  Left-wing organizations kicked off their “Stay Woke Florida” bus tour Sunday in Jacksonville to protest laws that they believe target black people and the LGBTQ community.

The move comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis has sloganeered Florida as the state where “woke goes to die.”

The bus tour will make 14 more stops through June 23. The protest is hosted by organizations including the Florida NAACP, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

The bus tour makes stops to cities such as Tallahassee, Gainesville, Ocala, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Miami, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine and more.

It’s part of a get-out-to-vote effort by Democrats who faced crushing losses during DeSantis’ re-election campaign.

The “rolling protest” is designed to “raise awareness” and encourage communities in Florida to “stand up and fight back against the suppressive actions taken by Governor DeSantis and the State Legislature.”

The event’s description claims Florida has banned books focused on “inclusion education; divested state funds from schools that practice principles of diversity, equity and inclusion; and has criminalized teaching of American History.”

The DeSantis administration has taken aim at critical race theory curriculum and inappropriate books for students.

There has been a national conversation surrounding controversial books in schools. The DeSantis administration and

Florida Republicans have given parents more leverage to challenge books they believe are not appropriate for children. Under a new Florida law, challenged books are required to be removed from circulation until a decision is made on whether they are appropriate for grade levels. Critics of legislation like those provisions have said the state is wrongfully “banning books.” DeSantis signed multiple higher education reform bills in May, including one to eliminate funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and critical race theory programs in higher education.

“DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,’ and that has no place in our public institutions,” DeSantis said during a press conference.

SB 266 will eliminate funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, programs from public universities and establish standards for core courses. It prohibits the teaching of critical race theory, or CRT, and related theories in general education courses.

DeSantis also signed a bill to ban sex reassignment surgeries and medications for minors with few exceptions.

Prohibited medications include cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers, which some doctors have used to treat gender dysphoria.

“You have a movement amongst, I would say rogue elements of the medical establishment, to do things that is basically the mutilation of minors,” DeSantis said, as he called the procedures “irreversible.”

Photos: Red shirt: Katie Hathaway (Moms Demand Action group) and Marcus Arbery, Sr. (father of  Ahmaud Arbery); Other photo: St. Paul Missionary Baptist Pastor John Gunns and Daryl Jones (Co-leader Boards with transformative Justice Coalition

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