Juneteenth Hospitality Feature Image Actabl 2023

Juneteenth’s Incredible Impact on the Hospitality Industry

On Monday, June 19th, offices around the US, including ours, will be closed for the observation of Juneteenth. But what is this holiday and why do we celebrate it?

On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of enslavement – two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It serves as a reminder of the importance of human rights, equality, and justice, highlighting the progress we have made as a society while also recognizing the work that lies ahead.

In the spirit of education and creating meaningful dialogue, here are a few African Americans who have impacted the hospitality industry:

  • Joseph Lee – A prominent industry pioneer who lived in Boston from 1849 – 1905. Lee operated two successful restaurants and a summer resort called The Squantum Inn. He became well known serving the wealthy population of the Back Bay section of Boston. He also invented machines to make bread crumbs and bread dough.
  • Victor H. Green – Author of “The Green Book”, published annually from 1936-1966, a guidebook for African American travelers to guide them to hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations, and other safe establishments throughout the country that served African American patrons.
  • Tunis Gulic Campbell – The highest-ranking and most successful African American politician in the Reconstruction Era, while preaching against enslavement, earned a living as a hotel steward in NYC and Boston. In 1848, he published an action plan for waiters and other hotel management, the “Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and Housekeepers’ Guide.” Hailed as the first book of its kind published in the United States, it provided practical information for operating a first-class hotel.
  • Albert and Margaret Robinson – Owned the first African-American-operated hotel in southern California. Built in 1897, The Hotel Robinson began as a restaurant and bakery, which were eventually demolished to make space for the 14-room hotel. The hotel was a social center of the community and hosted some of the most influential families and visitors.

These individuals, and many more, paved the way for many of the industry powerhouses we celebrate now, including:

  • Davonne Reaves – An award-winning hotel consultant, owner, author, and travelista
  • Omari Head – Director at Paramount Lodging Advisors, a National Hotel Advisory Team exclusively committed to the Hospitality Industry; Founder for the National Institute of Lodging Education, a nonprofit focused on educating Black and Latinx audiences about hotel ownership.
  • Sheila Johnson – Hotel Salamander/ BET Co-Founder 

Overall, African Americans have left an indelible mark on the hospitality industry through their creativity, entrepreneurship, activism, and cultural contributions. We encourage each and every one of you to join us in recognizing Juneteenth as a day of reflection, education, and celebration!

Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth

  • Stay at a Black-owned hotel. Travel season is ago and accommodation is a must! Check out these 41 Black-owned hotels from around the globe.
  • Eat and drink red foods. Red velvet cake, red strawberry soda, red punch, and several other eats have historically made appearances at Juneteenth celebrations. There are several theories as to why, but all hold symbolic, generational, or even regional significance.
  • Attend a festival. Search your city to see what it has in store for Juneteenth. 

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