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NAACP to boycott three hotel chains over black hiring

June 14, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ The NAACP gave failing grades Friday to three major hotel chains for their hiring and promotion of blacks and black businesses, and threatened to boycott the chains this summer.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ranked 15 hotel chains to help guide black organizations and consumers on where to spend their lodging dollars.

``We will not support hotels who do not support us,″ NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said at a Manhattan news conference. ``And we call on Americans of goodwill throughout the nation to support us in this struggle.″

The NAACP has made the hotel industry the first target of its ``Economic Reciprocity Campaign,″ which seeks to use black economic clout to improve conditions in black communities. In the future, it plans to look at the retail and automotive industries.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marriott International received the highest ranking _ a ``C plus″ grade _ based on the NAACP’s survey, which asked questions about the inclusion of blacks in employment, franchise ownership, vendor relations, advertising and philanthropy.

The three hotel chains that received failing grades _ Holiday Inn, Westin and Best Western _ refused to respond to the NAACP survey, Mfume said. They will be the target of an NAACP boycott this summer, he said.

``We believe that direct action in the form of a protracted consumer boycott and informational picketing should commence by mid-summer in the 25 largest markets across the nation,″ he said.

Mfume said the NAACP, in carrying out a boycott, would work with the 35 black organizations that are backing its initiative.

The NAACP first announced the results of its hotel survey last February. At that time, eight hotel chains had failed to participate and received ``F″ grades, prompting the NAACP to threaten a boycott.

Since then, all but three of the ``failing″ hotels have chosen to participate, Mfume said, and have received improved scores. (One hotel that received an ``F″ grade in February _ Renaissance Hotels and Resort _ is now owned by Marriott.)

Holiday Inn Worldwide has refused to give information to the NAACP, said its spokeswoman, Kerri Wightman, because ``it’s confidential information that we don’t provide to anyone.″

Also, she added, ``It’s not information that we have access to, anyway,″ because 95 percent of the company’s inns are owned by independent franchises.

Sue Brush, spokeswoman for Westin Hotels and Resorts, said its chairman, Juergen Bartels, responded to the NAACP survey in a letter. ``We didn’t respond in the way they asked us to respond, so they ignored it,″ she said.

A boycott, Brush added, is ``not a constructive way to achieve bilateral cooperation.″

Best Western International Inc. had no company statement but, like Holiday Inn, said its hotels are independently owned and that it ``does not have access to individual property information.″

Since February, Mfume said, four hotel chains _ Marriott, Doubletree Hotels Corp., HFS Inc. and Choice Hotels International _ have decided to work with the NAACP to improve the representation of blacks in their companies.

In addition, said Tammy Hawley, the NAACP’s chief operating officer, Doubletree _ which upped its grade to a ``C″ from an ``F″ _ has added a black member to its board of directors. Also, several hotel chains have hired diversity consultants and promoted blacks to upper-level management positions, she said.

In the hotel guide, eight hotels were given ``C minus″ grades: ITT Sheraton Corp., Hilton Hotels, Radisson Hotels International, Choice, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, HFS, Adam’s Mark Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.

Promus Hotel Corp. and Omni Hotels Corp. both received ``D″ marks.

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