Standing in the Shade: Remembering Pioneering African Americans in Hospitality
January 30, 2023 | 981 Views
Black History Month began as Negro History Week in February 1926, by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The commemoration extended to become a month-long event in 1976 at the urging of President Gerald Ford. In looking back at the origins of Black History Month, I was reminded of pioneering contributions made by African Americans in the hotel and restaurant industry.
Victor Hugo Green wrote the first travel guide for African Americans called The Green Book, published from 1936 to 1966. This valuable guide outlined restaurants, gas stations, and hotels in the United States which would serve African Americans during a time of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation.
Albert and Margaret Tull Robinson built the first African American-owned hotel located in southern California. Opened initially in 1897 as a bakery and restaurant, it was later rebuilt as a 14-room hotel, and is today known as The Julian Hotel.
Betty Reid Soskin at the time of her retirement on March 31, 2022, was the oldest National Park Ranger serving in the United States (then age 100). She is also a civil rights activist, musician, and businesswoman.
Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. She had to earn her license in France (teaching herself French first in order to do so), because in the early 1900s flight schools in the United States would not allow her to attend. She later became the first African American woman to make a flight in the United States in 1922.
As a Black American working in the hospitality industry, I stand in the shade of the trees planted by these individuals and many more. In fact, ALL of us working in the industry do. As Hallmark Mahogany writer Courtney Taylor states, “With our future ahead of us and the ancestors beside us, there’s nothing we can’t do.” My future and that of others is limitless, and as a trainer I work to plant trees for many more to come.
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Amazing contributions and our industry would not be the same without all the Black leaders. More, more, more!