Springfield NAACP Branch President Cheryl Clay says the travel advisory for Missouri is just that—an advisory, not a ban. During a press conference Tuesday Clay described the advisory as “a warning that Missouri is not a safe place for travel or work for people of color.”
The advisory was issued in June by the Missouri NAACP and endorsed by the national NAACP in July in response to the passage and signing of MO Senate Bill 43. The bill makes it harder for workers in the state to prove discrimination.
Clay says supporters claimed the bill would bring Missouri within federal guidelines. But she says it went too far.
"This bill is going beyond any federal guidelines that cover lawsuits and discrimination. It is also doing a lot more than any other state in our nation," says Clay.
According to Clay, the bill "rolls back decades of civil right protections for employees and whistleblower protections."
Steve Weimer, owner of Enterprise Park Lanes, went to the press conference to speak for business owners. He agrees the bill goes too far. But he says not having protections for business owners hurts minorities, too.
"They (business owners) need to know that when they go to court both sides are going to get heard," he says. "If the standard is too low, they don't go to court. They settle, and then they don't hire more black people."
He and Clay shook hands afterwards and agreed to sit down over coffee and talk about what can be done to make things better for both business owners and those who are vulnerable to discrimination.
Clay says she welcomes "civil dialogue with any concerned individuals. After all, our goal is that all individuals in our state be treated with dignity and respect."
She's concerned as well about ongoing racial problems in Missouri, including "Racial profiling by police, excessive force by police and jails (not just people of color but also those with mental illness), hate crimes, lack of public defenders and inequities in school funding.
Senate Bill 43 goes into effect August 28.