In many industries, ranging from farms to hospitals to automakers to grocery stores to professional baseball teams, African-Americans have gone backward numerically from the era depicted in the official poster of National Black Business Month.
However, the hotel industry is entering a brand new Gilded Era for African-Americans that surpasses the wildest dreams of the early 20th century owners of places like the Hotel Theresa in Harlem or the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles.
It did not happen by accident. One of the most effective African-American trade associations has been responsible for setting an agenda of success–leveraging political, international and financial options and supporting its members to grow exponentially and together. NABHOOD, the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, has made it possible for you to make a reservation at a black-owned hotel practically anywhere in the United States. Our recommended activity for Wednesday, Aug. 12 during National Black Business Month, particularly with the heavy traveling season and holiday weekend coming up, is to call or visit one of the 300 NABHOOD properties.
As recently as the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, African-Americans could not stay in the great majority of African-American hotels. That spawned a network of black-owned establishments, like the Hotel Somerville, built in Los Angeles in 1928 to accomodate the national convention of the NAACP. Here’s a history of black hostelry.
The heritage goes even further back. The first hotel built by anyone in San Francisco or Los Angeles or San Diego was, in all three cases, erected by African-Americans–William Leidesdorff’s City Hotel in the 1840s; Pio de Jesus Pico’s Pico House in 1868 and George Robinson’s establishment in the 1860s, respectively. There are more details in Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vols. 1-4.
One of the stereotypes we are committed to smashing during National Black Business Month is the myth that patronizing a black-owned business means compromising on quality. This is an industry where the intrepid entrepreneurs have aimed high–growing from a handful of properties in the 1990s to ownership of luxury resorts and Las Vegas casinos.
More than 30 years ago, television host and educator Tony Brown advocated that African-Americans book all their conventions in black-owned hotels. Not many took him seriously because there were not enough properties to accomodate them. That’s no longer the case.
However, we want to move beyond profound philosophical debates and to action. Let’s make it simple. Whenever you travel, visit the NABHOOD directory of properties to see if there is a hotel at your destination.
Walls Come Tumbling Down: State of Black Business sixth edition and our state business pages at http://www.blackbusinessmonth.com also point out the numbers of African-American hotels in a given state as one of our key factors for evaluating the business climate. Where a state or city is supportive of African-Americans who acquire or build hotel properties, it is a door opener to much wider opportunities and employment generation.
When entrepreneurs turn big dreams like that into reality, we are remiss if we do not join them in the actualization of that potential. Just imagine, hotels which would not accept black guests 50 years ago, now have black owners. That’s a good thought to sleep on.