Black Meetings and Tourism

March / April 2018

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B M & T ••• March/April 2018 ••• 4 As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 2018, perhaps we should all pause to reflect on the impact this American hero has had on all of us collec- tively and individually. Like many of our industry veterans, I was there in Washington, DC when he uttered those now famous words "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their charac- ter." His oratory skills reflected the passion and love he had for his fellow human being, and definitely inspired me to continue my journey as a civil rights and human rights warrior to battle discrimination and bigotry whenever and wherever I confronted it. As much as I love this industry we are all apart of, and the many lifelong friendships I enjoy because of my involvement in it, I con- tinue to be troubled and perplexed by the lack of diversity and inclusion I see in travel and tourism. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my mantra has been and continues to be "The hospitality industry has not been very hospitable to African- Americans and other people of color." Why else are there only 11 African-Americans heading convention & visitors bureaus PUBLISHER'S MESSAGE across the nation? Why is there only one African- American heading up a state tourism office in the US? Why are our ranks so thin in the executive offices and board rooms of major industry corporations and organ- izations? Why is the percentage of African-Americans serving as hotel general managers so low? Why is less than 2% of the nearly $60 billon generated annually by African-Americans for conventions and leisure travel spent with Black-owned businesses? I can tell you for certain that in each case it's not because there are no qualified African-Americans to fill these positions within our industry. I know better, and in your heart, you know better too! So the question remains, how do we change this picture? How do we open up our industry so there is parity in employment opportunities, promotional oppor- tunities and vendor opportunities? For starters, we make it our mission at BM&T to rec- ognize those from our community that have managed to meet with success despite the roadblocks and obstacles they may have experienced in this industry. Folks like Elliot Ferguson and Wanda Collier-Wilson, who serve as President/CEO of Destination DC and Visit Jackson respectively. Or Arnold Donald, President/CEO of Carnival Corporation, and Ken Lawson, President/CEO of Visit Florida. Secondly we urge our magazine and online audi- ence to support those organizations that have embraced diversity and inclusion by investing in the multicultural market segment, and by hiring and pro- moting people of color at the highest levels, and by pro- viding vendor opportunities to businesses owned by people of color offering needed support services. I believe we must reward those destinations, venues, cruise companies and other entities that practice diver- sity, which will only serve to encourage them to keep moving in this direction Likewise, I feel we must withhold our business from those within our industry that for whatever reason do not have an ethnically diverse staff, leadership and vendor pool. This was at the core of the Montgomery Bus Boycott organized by Dr. King in 1955, which helped launch the Civil Rights Movement. This model worked then, and will still work today if you are serious about changing our industry for the better! Black Meetings & Tourism is published bi-monthly by SunGlo Enterprises, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207 •Telephone: (818)709-0646/Fax: (818) 709-4753 Copyright 2018 by SunGlo Enterprises. All rights reserved. Single Copies, $6.00 Subscriptions $45.00. Postage Paid at Pasadena, CA. •Postmaster send address changes to Black Meetings & Tourism, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207. Solomon J. Herbert Publisher/Editor-In-Chief E-Mail:

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