NEW ORLEANS - The NAACP announced a boycott yesterday of the Adam's Mark Hotel chain, saying officials have not accepted responsibility for discriminatory treatment of black college students who patronized the chain's Daytona Beach, Fla., facility two years ago.
Sharon Harvey Davis, vice president of corporate affairs for Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts, said the company was "outraged at the NAACP's call today for a boycott."
"This action is totally unfair, undemocratic and possibly illegal," Davis said. "Adam's Mark has a strong diversity record within the hospitality industry, and the NAACP's allegations are completely groundless."
NAACP officials said that during the annual Black College Reunion in April 1999, black students were singled out as security risks and forced to wear orange wristbands before entering the hotel.
The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis-based chain in May 1999 and reached a settlement with it for more than $8 million in March last year. A U.S. District Court in Florida threw out the settlement in October, and since then hotel officials have reneged on the agreement, said NAACP spokesman John C. White.
"The NAACP has no other choice than to call for an all-out, long-term, massive boycott against the Adam's Mark Hotel chain until it publicly apologizes and accepts responsibility for its wrongdoing, " NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said yesterday.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, based in Baltimore, is holding its 92nd annual meeting in New Orleans.
Part of the now-void settlement agreement called for Adam's Mark officials to pay $1.5 million to four historically black colleges and universities in Florida and to pay those institutions $112,000 over three years to help promote the black college reunion, White said.
In an interview yesterday, Davis said the hotel chain doesn't think black college students were discriminated against two years ago in Daytona Beach and that officials agreed to a settlement last year because of the impact NAACP allegations were having on profits.
"At the time ... it was purely a business and economics decision," Davis said.
She said it is a common practice among Adam's Mark hotels to require guests to wear wristbands.
"We used them for white events as well as black events and mixed events," Davis said. "We didn't use them only for black students."
The chain has no hotels in Maryland.
Also yesterday, NAACP leaders discussed a five-year strategic plan, with goals of increasing membership, expanding the association's advocacy programs, promoting enforcement of fair housing laws and advocating increased access to credit, capital and financial services for blacks and other minorities.
The plan, the first in the history of the organization, will be voted on today by board members.