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The NAACP has issued an advisory statement telling African-Americans about traveling on American Airlines. Josh King has the story (@abridgetoland).
Buzz60

The NAACP did not issue a travel advisory for its first 108 years. Since August, it’s issued its first two: one warning against travel to the state of Missouri and another, on Wednesday, for American Airlines.

Both came under the oversight of Derrick Johnson, the civil rights group’s once-interim leader who became its president on Saturday. Johnson sees the advisories as “part of the direction we’re going to be going as an organization,” one way to highlight “patterns that appear to be discriminatory in nature” — whether in businesses or entire states.

But don’t expect a new one every other month, Johnson said, and don’t call it a boycott, either. 

“We’re not suggesting people do or don’t do anything. We’re not trying to inform consumer behavior,” Johnson said in an interview with USA TODAY.

“What we’re doing is giving people information based on what we’ve found that here may be concern for pause, no different than going to a country with some sort of advisory warning. Doesn’t say you can’t go, but traveler beware.”

More: NAACP travel warning for American Airlines: What options do you have?

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More: NAACP warns African Americans about traveling on American Airlines

There’s no rubric for NAACP travel advisories, Johnson said. They’re contextual, determined on a case-by-case basis.

The Missouri advisory, which warned African Americans to “travel with extreme caution” in the state, came after “numerous racist incidents” capped by a state Senate bill aimed at reducing discrimination lawsuits. That proposal became law, and the advisory remains ongoing.

Wednesday’s American Airlines advisory began forming a year ago when a North Carolina NAACP leader was pulled from one of the airline’s flights after confronting alleged discrimination from a fellow passenger, Johnson said. Other incidents — above and beyond typical flight bumps — followed, he said.

“These were specific incidents of people being removed from the plane, their premium seats being taken without notification. That’s a little different,” Johnson said. “That’s a lot different.”

The advisory could have real economic impacts, both for American Airlines and for travelers who avoid the carrier.

But before the NAACP rescinds the travel warning, it wants to see two things, Johnson said: racial sensitivity training for American Airlines employees and racial diversity in the airline’s workforce, from top to bottom.

American Airlines had contacted the NAACP on the matter, Johnson said Wednesday night, but no meeting had yet been established.

Johnson hadn’t heard much feedback on the advisory, though, he said, as he’d been flying that day. On American Airlines? 

“No no no,” he said. “I’m on Delta.”

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner