America’s Hotels Celebrate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Black History Month and Beyond

To commemorate Black History Month, hotels across the United States are inviting guests and locals to participate in pop-up programs and events throughout the month of February.

Ways the hotels go above and beyond the expectations of their surrounding communities include specially curated food and beverages inspired by icons of Black history, featuring local artists, happy hours and entertainment events. listening to live podcasts.

Jason Bass, director of culture and impact at Maryland-based Revival Baltimore, a JdV by Hyatt hotel, said his property always seeks to create opportunities to celebrate diversity throughout the year.

Jason Bass is Director of Culture and Impact at Hotel Revival Baltimore. (Baltimore Revival)

Revival Baltimore is in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, which Bass says is a cultural district rich in music, art and food.

“Other than that, from a socio-economic point of view of the neighborhood, it’s fine [from] households that hit the median income of $40,000 a year to people who are doing pretty well, and that’s the focus for them,” he said. so really cater to both audiences in a way.”

Achieving this, Bass said, requires intentionally programming each area of ​​the hotel.

“What I do, in particular, is I’m more of a hands-on, down-to-earth community type person, where I believe the only way to truly understand how to serve the people in your area is if you visit where they are,” he said. “You can observe to see what is not said; if the [community] trusts you, they’ll let you know.”

For February, Bass and his team hosted a variety of special events for Black History Month, including a viewing party for the HBO documentary “A Choice of Weapons” with local photographer and activist Devin Allen; a happy hour most Thursdays of the month at its B-side bar, featuring black-owned liquor companies; a live podcast listening event; and festivities to celebrate the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association — the oldest African-American athletic conference in the United States — coming to Baltimore.

Some of these events also present the opportunity to generate revenue, he said.

Bass’ role as Director of Culture and Impact at the hotel is unique in that he is the only one within Hyatt hotels. The hotel’s general manager, Donte Johnson, created the position.

“He had a vision of what the hotel should look like and how it should operate,” Bass said. “I contacted him once he became general manager of the hotel to see if he would be interested in me hosting an event at the hotel, called the Night Brunch. From there, he became a short-lived consulting role. . then morphed into an opportunity to create that role.”

Bass said it was crucial to continue the conversation about marginalized people beyond Black History Month.

“When it comes to black history, being a black person, of course, is a time when we can celebrate that and focus on that, but we’re looking to create opportunities throughout the year,” he said, like celebrating women’s history. Pride month and month.

The hotel also partners with local minority-owned businesses as vendors, such as a sustainable toilet paper company and a feminine products company, he said.

The Foundry Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina is rooted in history, which General Manager Larry Crosby says inspired his team to participate in historic preservation and add vibrancy to the city.

The 87-room hotel is located in the historic African-American business and residential district called The Block, an area that was home to nearly 100 black-owned businesses centered around the historic YMI Cultural Center, he said per E-mail.

Larry Crosby is General Manager of the Foundry Hotel Asheville, Curio Collection by Hilton, in Asheville, North Carolina. (The Foundry Hotel Asheville)

“The neighborhood has undergone significant change since its heyday as ‘urban renewal’ displaced its residents and businesses with the unfulfilled promise of a return,” he said. “Today, the community is focused on its rebirth through the preservation of its historic structures such as the YMI, Ashville Supply and Foundry Building, which is now the Foundry Hotel.”

The Foundry Hotel itself was designed to pay homage to the city. The hotel’s restaurant, Benne on Eagle, offers cuisine representative of the traditions originating in The Block district. The Savoy Ballroom was named for the original Savoy Hotel that hosted many African Americans on their trips to Asheville, Crosby said.

Because maintaining partnerships with the community and finding ways to curate experiences with the neighborhood’s history is a priority for Crosby, he enlisted DeWayne Barton, founder and CEO of Hood Huggers International, who is dedicated to programs that historically revitalize, protect and uplift Africa. -American neighborhoods and monuments.

The foundry’s partnership with Hood Huggers allows guests to immerse themselves in private “Hood” tours of the neighborhood with Barton.

“DeWayne Barton has been at the forefront of telling the stories of Asheville’s black history for a very long time,” Crosby said. “Given the knowledge he brings and the invaluable insights he offers, we knew it was important to partner with DeWayne to bring his experience to our guests. DeWayne is focused on preserving the legacy of black history in Asheville and The Foundry was to be a key contributor to that.”

The hotel’s concierge services also organize local experiences by guiding guests to nearby PennyCup cafe, Noir Collective and the YMI cultural center, Crosby said.

This year, Hotel Zena in Washington, DC is hosting its Black History Month event on February 26 at its Figleaf Bar & Lounge, which will feature the creations of 18 local black artisans, makers and businesses, Sherry Abedi, area general manager of Hotel Zena, said via email.

Sherry Abedi is General Manager of Hotel Zena in Washington, D.C. (Hotel Zena)

These creators will curate a show experience for guests and locals while the hotel’s dining venue, Figleaf, will feature craft cocktails and a snack menu for guests to purchase. Vendors also have the opportunity to sell their items in the Hotel Zena gift shop.

The hotel opened in 2020, and this is the first year it will host an event for Black History Month, she said. Hotel Zena is known as a cultural center celebrating the achievements of women and their struggle for gender equality.

“We expect great turnout from our guests at the hotel and also from the local DC community, as many of our attendees have repeat customers in the area,” she said.

Last year, Hotel Zena held a month-long celebration in honor of Women’s History Month with virtual and in-person events, which was well received by the community. Abedi expects a similar turnout for the Black History Month event.

“We certainly plan to continue this event for years to come, as showcasing and supporting local black women designers and artisans is of great importance to us,” she said.

Shown here is Hotel Zena’s gift shop. (Hotel Zena)

“Hotel Zena’s design and programs celebrate people working together to realize basic civil rights in a warm, dynamic and welcoming hotel with comfortable spaces adorned with artwork, commissioned to create a message of empowerment and hope,” she said. “When companies celebrate diversity, whether through art, programming, or staff diversity, it shows how a brand incorporates different perspectives into its services and offerings. This, in turn, helps create a welcoming environment for people from different backgrounds.”

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