What is YOUR legacy?
January 30, 2024 | 316 Views
Last year for Black History Month, I wrote a blog celebrating Black American pioneers in the hospitality industry. As I researched biographies of other individuals to highlight this year, one word came to mind as I thought about how Black Americans have shaped the hospitality industry…LEGACY.
James Wormley opened the first Black-owned hotel in the United States, located in Washington, DC in 1871. (Hotel Robinson, owned and operated by Albert and Margaret Tull Robinson, was the first owned by a Black American in California, and did not open until 1897.) Black caterers Thomas Dorsey, Henry Jones, and Henry Milton established a monopoly of the upscale catering market in Philadelphia in the mid-1800’s, serving meals that commanded as much as $50 a plate.
When I think about these individuals, the legacy left is what stands out to me.
The Wormley Hotel (also called Wormely’s Hotel) was the first integrated hotel and became the site for the Compromise of 1877, an unwritten political deal that ended the dispute over the 1876 presidential election and brought an end to federal Reconstruction. Following Dorsey, Jones, and Milton, Peter Augustin (from Haiti) became the first person of African descent to rent china, tables, chairs, and other accouterments to clients, and became one of the first-ever event rental moguls in the United States. Philadelphia also became the “unofficial” center for Blacks in catering.
The legacy from these individuals (and so many others) has paved the way for individuals such as Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and owner of the Salamander Middleburg Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA, to operate the only 5-star resort owned solely by a Black woman, and Pinky Cole Hayes, owner of the Slutty Vegan restaurant chain.
As WE COLLECTIVELY celebrate Black History month, consider the legacy you leave behind. Consider it in every workshop you facilitate, piece of training content you develop, every manager you onboard, and every employee you recognize. The work we do as trainers not only supports better business operations, but better people.