Black History Month founders join call upon Hilton Hotels to do justice in Deep South

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Washington DC: (By Ahmar Mustikhan) Not many know but Hitler was all praise for White Supremacy in the U.S. and borrowed some of the precepts of his hateful Nazi ideology from Jim Crow. Front page news on the Montgomery Advertiser 5/15/1916 praises the Mississippi Senators for ridding the south of the social menace of negroes. Their picture was on display at Hilton’s The Tutwiler in downtown Birmingham.

The founders of the Black History Month have joined the national petition, asking Hilton Worldwide to do justice with Blacks in the Deep South who are still facing Jim Crow-like situation.

Sylvia Y. Cyrus, executive director of the Washington DC-based Association for the Study of African American Life (ASALH) has signed a petition calling upon Hilton Worldwide to support civil rights endeavors all over the United States and globally.

ASALH was founded by legendary Washington DC educator and public intellectual Carter G. Woodson and has among its members leading Black and pro-Black scholars, intellectuals, scholars, intelligentsia, book writers and activists. Carter G. Woodson books including “The Mis-Education of the Negro” are regarded as master pieces by the global black intellectual movement.

The petition came in the wake of a huge portrait of K.K.K and Confederate leaders that the Hilton Worldwide had displayed ornately outside the breakfast room of the Tutwiler Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

When the Confederate veterans held their 26th reunion in Birmingham May 16 to 18, 1916, their main leaders stayed at then newly built The Tutwiler— a citadel of White Supremacy. The hotel’s founder Edward Magruder Tutwiler was himself a Confederate officer.

The Tutwiler is just four blocks away from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that left Four Little Girls dead in a K.K.K. bombing on September 15, 1963. When Supreme Court associate judge Ketanji Brown Jackson came to the church on September 15 last year to pay homage to the sacrifice of the tiny black girls, the picture was still on display at The Tutwiler.

Mark Weinstein, spokesperson for the Hilton Worldwide and Kay French, general manager of The Tutwiler had informed this writer that the Nazi-style horrific picture was removed on September 18, 2023– four days after this writer complained. The news was reported in Alabama mainstream media but the Hilton Worldwide never issued a public apology.

The petition signed by ASALH’s leader Cyrus asked Hilton Worldwide to do more to promote civil rights like putting bust of civil rights icons in their hotel lobbies and keeping “the book Why We Can’t Wait by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. or any other educational material they may deem appropriate in their hotel rooms. They may also provide conference rooms at highly discounted rates for civil rights related events.”

The petition urged Hilton Worldwide to turn a new leaf on its past and say sorry for the hurt they have caused and thoroughly examine all their hotels all over the U.S. and overseas to ensure there are “no such materials that impinge on the right to equal and pleasurable accommodation of people of all races, color, ethnicity, geography, country of origin, nationality status, age,  sex or sexual orientation during their stays at any Hilton hotel.”

During the Black History Month, the Minority leader in the House of Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and his younger scholar brother Professor Hasan Jeffries spoke at the 98th ASALH annual luncheon at the Westin Downtown in Washington DC. The event was emceed by Washington Informer publisher Denise Roark Barnes.

There are more than 2,500 Hilton hotels under different brand names in southern states where racism is still very blunt— Texas 562, Florida 465, Georgia 250, North Carolina 241, Virginia 205, Tennessee 184, South Carolina 150, Alabama 129, Kentucky 97, Louisiana 89, Mississippi 76 and Arkansas 67.

Hilton could play a major role in promoting civil rights and progressive values. In contrast, not only Paris Hilton is known for making racist remarks, the founding fathers of the Hilton dynasty have a history of association with Hitlerites.

Hilton’s chief Conrad Hilton Sr. and his son Baron Hilton were seen rubbing shoulders with Wernher von Braun, the Nazi scientist who was very close to Hitler and was later credited for sending the U.S. to the moon. Wernher von Braun was settled in Huntsville AL during the hey days of the civil rights movement when white policemen were mercilessly beating up black kids few blocks from The Tutwiler. He was among 1600 dirty Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. under the so-called Operation Paperclip to promote the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Hitler adored White Supremacy in the U.S. According to History Channel, “In 1935, Nazi Germany passed two radically discriminatory pieces of legislation inspired by American laws: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Together, these were known as the Nuremberg Laws, and they laid the legal groundwork for the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.”

A number of activists, including London-based Peter Tatchell have castigated Hilton Worldwide over the picture. Ted Schwarzman, son of Stephen Schwarzman— the eighth largest campaign contributor and 56th richest man on earth— praised the efforts of this writer to confront racism. Stephen Schwarzman owned Hilton Worldwide some years ago.

Picture taken by this writer on 9/13/2024 at 6:02 am outside the breakfast lounge of Hilton’s The Tutwiler. A hand written caption on the picture reads: “The 26th Annual Confederate Veterans Reunion Tutwiler Hotel Lobby; May, 1916.” The picture was still there when Supreme Court Associate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke at the 16th Street Baptist Church on the 60th Anniversary of the killing of the Four Little Girls.

What to do to help

If you are interested in helping, you can shoot an email to Jonathan Gray, who ranks 153rd on Forbes Fortune 400 and is chair of the Hilton Worldwide board of directors. His email address is: jonathan.gray@hilton.com

Or you may sign the petition by copying and pasting the link here to your browser:

https://www.change.org/p/do-justice-with-blacks-an-appeal-to-hilton-worldwide

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