Due to the Political and Social Atmosphere in Florida, This Conference Must Now Be Held in San Francisco
The National Black Nurses Association has decided to move its 2024 conference from Florida to San Francisco due to mounting concerns about the state’s political environment.
According to a spokesman of the nonprofit organization, which has its headquarters in Maryland, the six-day National Institute and Conference will take place at the Marriott Marquis hotel located at 780 Mission St. from July 23–28. The Chronicle was informed of this information on Friday.
When asked how many association members will be present at the conference, neither the Marriott Marquis nor the salesperson answered right away.
Originally, the conference was scheduled to be held at the Hilton-branded Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida. The group said in an October statement that it had decided to break its commitment after receiving feedback from its membership, which included worries about the political and social atmosphere in the state at the time of the survey.
“The association stated that a hostile and dangerous environment has been created in the state by the passage of anti-Black policies and laws that have taken a destructive stance to erase and silence Black history and restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools, along with the NAACP travel ban and the recent senseless, racially motivated, hate-fueled murders of three innocent Black Americans in Jacksonville, Florida.”
“Therefore, as a multigenerational professional nursing association with a Black identity, we cannot jeopardize the safety or well-being of our members or expose them to unjustifiable, unforeseen, and unpredictable threats to their life, liberty, and right to the first amendment.”
With 114 chartered chapters spread over 34 states, the group represents 308,000 Black registered nurses, licensed vocational and practical nurses, nursing students, and retired nurses from the Eastern Caribbean, Africa, and the United States.
The group stated in a statement that it tried to move the conference to a later year, “when conditions would hopefully be safer for Black-identifying groups like ours,” but that talks to move it to a another location at the Diplomat Beach Resort fell down.
The National Society of Black Engineers and the Fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, two significant organizations that serve the Black professional community, have both declared that they will be relocating their yearly conferences from Florida. Their respective conventions were originally set for 2025 and 2024 in the state.
The recent Florida education board decision to forbid teaching Black history to students in grades K–12 is one of the factors driving the cancellations. The NAACP issued a travel alert against Florida in May, branding the state as “openly hostile.”
The Marriott Marquis and the neighboring companies will benefit greatly from the association’s change of plans, as San Francisco hotels continue to recoup from significant income losses caused by the pandemic.
The San Francisco Controller’s Office provided an update on the state of the city’s economy earlier this month, and as of October, hotel revenues in the city were still roughly 70% of levels prior to the outbreak.
The pandemic devastated the city’s hotel occupancy rate, which rose to 65.8% this year. According to data from San Francisco Travel, demand for hotel rooms in the city increased by 9.2% year-to-date as of September. Despite this improvement, the slow recovery of corporate travel continues to be a major source of pain for San Francisco’s hotels, which are now more and more in competition for leisure travelers.
Furthermore, Moscone Center, the city’s flagship convention site, which is situated at 747 Howard St., a block away from the Marriott Marquis, is anticipated to host 21 events in 2024, accounting for 426,951 hotel room nights, according to forecasts made by SF Travel. That represents a 34% decrease from 2023.
In the upcoming years, certain hotels will experience pressure from their debt since their revenues are still below expectations: Over the next two years, over two dozen loans associated with nearby hotels will become due.
However, there are some encouraging developments, such as the association’s intention to remain in San Francisco and Salesforce’s statement last month that Dreamforce, the yearly conference the firm produces, will return to San Francisco in spite of risks that it might not.