Students sue Daytona Beach resort for racial bias
May 20, 1999
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:
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.
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.
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.
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