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The NAACP Is Half Right On Adam's Mark Boycott

We would venture to say that at least half of all Blacks who have traveled throughout this country for conventions, business meetings or family vacations more than a handful of times, have experienced mistreatment from the front desk of a major hotel. In light of that reality, we do not find it hard at all to support the NAACP's boycott of the Adam's Mark hotel chain. In fact, we would personally like to recommend a few more hotels to the NAACP that warrant boycott treatment.

But having said that the Black community must hold itself responsible for still being in the position to receive the treatment that it gets from White-owned and managed hotels. Last night we heard NAACP President Kweisi Mfume state that it was a shame that Blacks were still fighting for proper treatment and accommodations 40 years after that fight picked up steam.

We agree and primarily blame the Black community and its organizations for that problem. Every major Black organization from the NAACP to the Urban League to Congressional Black Caucus to The Nation Of Islam - every year - pours millions of dollars into the coffers of White-owned corporate hotel chains. It is hard to place the blame for discrimination solely on the shoulders of hotels like the Adam's Mark, in light of that fact.

Although blatant dishumane discrimination is not justifiable, if you don't respect yourself enough to go elsewhere, year-after-year, after receiving mistreatment; then the increased disrespect handed your way, year-after-year, should come as no suprise.

People that repeatedly mistreat you do so, partly out of a recognition that you are willing to receive such mistreatment.

We think it was Tony Brown who, for over a decade, has been asking Black organizations for just one single year, to cancel their national conventions and use the savings to start a new hotel chain.

It is hard to argue with his suggestion. If one were to add up the bill in terms of transportation, lodging, logistics, food and catering that Black organizations and their individual members pay for their conventions in primarily White-owned corporate hotels and convention centers it would be embarrassing, in light of the fact that Blacks argue as if they have no other alternative than to stay in hostile territory.

That argument isn't credible anymore. It has not been credible for decades. Not to mention the fact that every major city in America has had at least one major Black hotel that was forced to close down as a result of the efforts to integrate White establishments, and the lack of patronage received from Blacks.

We love to see a Black organization use the power of Black dollars to make a statement against mistreatment but we also would like to see the same Black organization use the power of those same Black dollars for building institutions that provide a real alternative to said mistreatment. Their efforts should be supported by other Black organizations.

The effort to speak with the power of dollars has to move beyond an articulation of what Blacks are against, and onward to what Blacks are for.

The NAACP can lead the way by asking Black organizations to stop spending money every year for conventions in establishments run by people that don't respect Blacks, and instead, apply those financial savings to building a new hotel chain – with ownership shares going to the organizations and individuals that make contributions and investments.

The NAACP has articulated half of the argument. It is time for it to argue the second half – with the full support of the Black organizations that aid and abet the disrespectful treatment of their members every year by carelessly throwing dollars at hotel establishments.

Boycotts are a beginning not an end.

Cedric Muhammad
August 13, 2001

Here is an official NAACP release explaining the Adam's Mark boycott:

Q & A for Adam's Mark Pickets
August 10-11, 2001

Q: Why is the NAACP calling for a massive, all-out boycott of the Adam's Mark hotel chain?

A: The NAACP is boycotting the Adam's Mark hotel chain because in 1999, the NAACP, (on behalf of some hotel guests and visitors) the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Florida filed separate lawsuits against Adams Mark, saying that the hotel chain violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (public accommodations law guaranteeing every citizen the right to use equally hotels, parks, restaurants and other public places). These lawsuits were filed after people attending Black College Reunion Weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla. alleged that as guests at Adam's Mark, they were forced to wear non-detachable, neon orange identification wristbands, forced to enter the hotel through barricades and a heavy police presence, and rented only the most basic rooms. Although, Adam's Mark initially agreed to an NAACP's $ 8 million settlement, the trial judge refused to approve the settlement on procedural grounds. That decision is on appeal and Adam's Mark has refused to support the appeal, or to otherwise settle the guests' and the State the State of Florida's case, the NAACP called for an all-out boycott of the hotel chain at our National Convention in July.

Q: What does the boycott mean?

A: The boycott essentially means the NAACP will not do ANY business, i.e., book rooms, halls or book/attend conferences, luncheons, meetings or banquets with any Adam's Mark properties until the boycott is lifted.

Q: When will the boycott be lifted and why picket?

A: The boycott will be lifted when Adam's Mark publicly apologizes for their treatment of African American guests and visitors at its Daytona Beach location during the 1999 Black College Reunion Weekend and works in good faith with the plaintiffs (hotel guests) to resolve the case, which is still pending. The NAACP is picketing the hotel chain to visibly demonstrate its outrage and is seeking concrete action by the hotel chain. The NAACP is demanding that Adam's Mark establish policies and procedures that prevent and remedy discrimination.

Q: Why did the judge who heard the case in federal district court rule in the NAACP's favor?

A: The judge rejected the Adam's Mark hotel's attempt to stop the NAACP's boycott, saying that the chain's request for an injunction would unconstitutionally restrict the NAACP's First Amendment right to free speech in an incident in which substantial evidence exists that racial discrimination did occur.

Q: Was Adam's Mark involved in any other incidents regarding racial discrimination before the NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Florida filed suits in 1999?

A: Yes. From 1991 to 1999 they were found guilty in two lawsuits of based on based on racial discrimination claims.

Q: Are other pickets planned in the future?
A: Additional pickets are planned, however; the location of future pickets has yet to be determined.

Q: Fred Kummer, Adam's Mark president and CEO, said he was "truly sorry" if his hotel chain offended some of the guests who stayed at the Daytona Beach facility. Isn't this an apology? Why doesn't this satisfy the NAACP?

A: That's a good step in the right direction, but actions speak louder than words. We want a full apology and as stated earlier, for Adam's Mark to settle the case still pending and to put into place a system to prevent future discrimination or to deal effectively with it when it occurs.

Monday, August 13, 2001

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