SAN FRANCISCO - The National Black Nurses Association announced it would be moving its annual conference from Florida to right here in the Bay Area; officials with the organization say it's a result of anti-Black legislation that has recently been passed in Florida.
"We had to go with what the majority of the members clearly articulated to us was their concern about us holding our conference in an environment that feels hostile toward us," Sheldon Fields, president of the National Black Nurses Association told KTVU.
In May, the NAACP put out a travel advisory for Black people who may consider heading to Florida; that advisory cited anti-Black legislation as a key concern for Black travelers.
The National Black Nurses Association put out a survey to its members this year to learn more about their feelings on the conference's host state. The responses echoed what the group's leadership had been hearing anecdotally over the past year:
"The overwhelming majority, 84%, said that we should move the conference," Fields said.
Fields says a racially-motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Florida at a Dollar General in August that left three people dead also led to more members speaking out.
"This decision ultimately was made out of the utmost safety for our members. We really could not take the risk of anybody being hurt," Fields told KTVU.
The NBNA stands to lose a big chunk of cash due to the conference's relocation: the association will likely pay nearly half a million dollars to cancel its reservation at the Florida hotel. Fields says the change is still more than worth it.
"The life of an NBNA member is absolutely invaluable," he said.
KTVU reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed's office, which said she welcomes any opportunity to bring conferences to the city.
"As we do with every conference, we will work with our hospitality partners to welcome the attendees and ensure resources are in place to make the event safe, welcoming, and vibrant," Breed's office said.
SF Travel tells us that visitors are a "powerful economic driver" for the city, bringing money into hotels, restaurants and retailers. Many small business owners could stand to benefit more from a conference like this than they did during APEC because of the stark differences in security protocols.
APEC was designated a National Special Security Event, and it was the first time an event of its kind took place in the city.
NBNA conference isn't the only one coming to San Francisco. SF Travel says more than 20 conferences are scheduled to come through the city over the next year.