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Students sue Daytona Beach resort for racial bias

Protesters march outside the Adam's Mark resort in Daytona Beach  

May 20, 1999
Web posted at: 6:52 p.m. EDT (2252 GMT)

In this story:

Wristbands likened to 'badge of slavery'

Hotel says it supports African-Americans


From CNN's Richie Phillips

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- Five black students who stayed at the Adam's Mark Daytona Beach Resort during the Black College Reunion in April filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday charging the resort with discrimination.

Black College Reunion is the name given to the spring break gathering of black college students from throughout the country.

The lawsuit alleges that during the students' April 9-11 stay, Adam's Mark:

  • Required black registered guests to wear neon orange wristbands.

  • Required black registered guests to pre-pay for the entire weekend stay and pay an additional $100 damage deposit.

  • Refused to provide valet parking to black registered guests.

  • Refused to allow black registered guests to park in the hotel's parking area.

  • Severely limited the number of black guests allowed to visit the hotel.

  • Provided substandard services to black registered guests, sometimes not providing basic housekeeping.

The suit seeks compensation for the economic loss, humiliation and embarrassment suffered by the students during their stay. It also seeks punitive damages and attorneys' fees, with the amount to be determined by a court.

Wristbands likened to 'badge of slavery'

The students said they were constantly asked by hotel security to show their wristbands. Black College Reunion students not staying at the hotel were not allowed to visit.

"Having to wear a wristband felt like having to wear a badge of slavery," said Dante Gilliam, a plaintiff in the case.

The suit also alleges the black students' rooms were stripped, the walls were bare and old linens were placed on the beds. The black students said they were not given valet parking or assistance with their baggage, but white guests at the hotel received those services.

"I desire the same treatment as anyone else who stays at the Adam's Mark," said Latoya Straughn, another plaintiff in the suit.

The students said when it was time to leave at the end of the weekend, they were herded into a long line to check out, even though they had pre-paid, while white guests were directed to another line where they received faster service.

Hotel says it supports African-Americans

Fred S. Kummer, founder and CEO of HBE Corp. and Adams Mark Hotels and Resorts, said the claims were "irresponsible."

In particular, he said the wrist-band requirement has been used for other functions, including happy hours.

"Wrist bands have been used at the property for a number of non-African American functions, including the hotel's New Year's Eve celebration and happy-hour pool deck parties," Kummer said.

"The hotel has always maintained a strong presence in civic activities, including those related to the African-American community," said an Adam's Mark Hotels statement released Thursday.

"As an example, we have been leaders in local efforts to promote and enhance the Black College Reunion and were supporters and sponsors of the Daytona Beach African (American) Chamber of Commerce," the statement said.

Daytona Beach - Daytona Beach Florida
Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts
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