Michigan high school students racially profiled, mistreated at Florida Econolodge

Photo Credit: Blakes College Tour/GoFundMe
Photo Credit: Blakes College Tour/GoFundMe

A group of Black high school students from Flint, Michigan, recently were taught a lesson in Southern un-hospitality at an Econolodge in Live Oak, Florida. According to news reports, the students, while on spring break, were touring college campuses when their bus broke down in Live Oak on the way back home. The group, which was under adult supervision, checked into the local Econolodge and received a dose of pure racism.

Both the students and adults were subjected to racial profiling and called the N-word by hotel staff and management. The situation became so tense that the coordinator of the trip, activist Blake E. Odum  called the police out of concern and safety for his students. When the police arrived and investigated the situation Odum states the officer told him, “You know, I just want to let you know this area right off the interstate, people aren’t too accommodating to you all,” referring to Black people.  The police could do nothing to help the situation and when the officers were leaving the hotel owner stated, “We’re going to get these n—ers off our property.” According to Odum, the group was ordered to check out of the hotel promptly at 10 a.m. by hotel staff.

By all accounts the students were visibly upset by their treatment and the corporate headquarters for the hotel chain, Choice Hotels, was contacted by parents and Odum. The hotel chain’s Facebook page has been ablaze with comments from people — both White and Black — demanding the company take action against the hotel property owner in Live Oak. Some users are even calling for a boycott of the hotel chain until the action is addressed decisively by the corporation.  The company’s vice president issued a statement, which read in part, “Please be assured that we are thoroughly investigating all aspects of this incident. It is important to us that our franchised hotels uphold our values and ethics.”

Odum, who is the founder and CEO of The Motivational Foundation, says the group is planning on taking legal action for their mistreatment by the hotel and staff.

In the fall of 2014, Odum launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe to carry out his dream of “changing the lives of young people; through the power of promoting higher education and greater work ethic within the community.” During the spring break tour, April 6-12, 2015, the students were scheduled to visit Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical, Alabama State University, Alabama A & M University, Florida A & M University, and Bethune-Cookman University.

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