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Why we Celebrate Black History Month in the Hospitality Industry

The month of February is set aside to recognize the many contributions of Black Americans to this country. Many times, the focus stays on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and Carter G. Woodson. And never to negate their important mark on our history, there are so many more who deserve our recognition, our honor, and our gratitude. And there are many individuals within the hospitality industry who deserve our recognition. There was a time, not that long ago, that African Americans were denied access to lodge at a hotel and/or dine within the hotel’s restaurant. Even those who had attained a certain celebrity status, like Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole, just to name a few, who could perform at the hotel, but was not good enough to have a reservation. So, we thank and honor Joseph Lee, who was successful restauranteur, hotel owner and owned a catering service to serve African Americans who were otherwise denied access while traveling through Boston, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s and to Victor H. Green, who published The Negro Traveler’s Green Book, who listed hotels, motels and restaurants that were safe for African Americans to stop, rest and enjoy a meal during their travels.  Because of these trailblazers, Black Americans can have travel to most locations and enjoy the opportunity to stay within a hotel and dine at a restaurant of their choice. But there is still so much work to do. More pathways to be created, more hills to climb, more ladders to be built to create the pipeline for more people of color and marginalized individuals to not only have a seat at the table, but to bring their own chair.

Jacky ListonWhy we Celebrate Black History Month in the Hospitality Industry