The View from the Inside ... The OAH's Courageous Stand Against Racism in 2000

Historians in the News
tags: OAH2015

Darlene Clark Hine is the Board of Trustees Professor of History at Northwestern University. 

Darlene Clark Hine was interviewed by the History News Network at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians on April 18, 2015, where she spoke about a subject she has long tried to forget: The painful decision the OAH made in 2000 to stand up to the racist practices of the Adam’s Mark Hotel. The controversy broke just as Professor Hine was preparing to take-over as the new president of the OAH. 

The organization was scheduled to headquarter its convention that year at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in St. Louis when the NAACP led a boycott of the chain. In response the OAH decided to move the annual convention to St. Louis University at a cost of $90,000, which covered the cost of the facility, shuttle buses and legal expenses. 

The hotel subsequently threatened to sue the organization for $450,000. Bankruptcy loomed. Some members were aghast that the organization was taking a forceful stand. But the OAH persisted. Members contributed enough money to off-set the added costs and the NAACP forced the hotel to withdraw its suit against the OAH as part of a general settlement.

Three veterans of the struggle against the Adam's Mark Hotel: Nancy Cott, Lee Formwalt (former Executive Director of the OAH), and Jeffrey Sammons.  Missing:  OAH President David Montgomery, who led a protest march of historians.  Professor Montgomery passed away in 2011.

Lee Formwalt and Darlene Clark Hine