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Empowerment agreement ends Miami boycott.

Three years after the black community declared an conomic boycott on Miami's tourist industry, The Boycott Miami: Coalition for Progress has signed an agreement with area business leaders, ending the boycott. The non-binding agreement which took 16 months to negotiate, allows the city to begin recouping an estimated $50 million in lost revenues.

The May 12 accord calls upon Miami's business community to commit to black economic empowerment by providing loans, bonding, insurance and private contracting opportunities for black businesses. Commitments for scholarships, internships, job training and financial aid for black students seeking careers in the $7 billion tourism industry are also part of the 20-point plan. A $250,000 donation from the Knight Foundation for 125 scholarships to train black students, and a deposit of $2.5 million into the Peoples Bank of Commerce, Florida's only black-owned bank, are among the initiatives.

The nowly formed Miami Partners for Progress, a group of 16 boycott organizers and Dade County business leaders, will oversee the program over the next three years. James K. Batten, chairman and CEO of Knight Ridder Inc., and Carlos M. de la Cruz, chairman of the board of Miami Honda, are among those implementing the agreement

"We intentionally wanted to deal with business leaders because, whether it's a private or public sector initiative, strong businesspeople have the power to make things happen," says boycott leader H.T. Smith.

The boycott began in 1990, shortly after five Cuban-American Mayors refused to officially welcome anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela during his June visit. The continuing boycott, began to tarnish Miami's world image. "A muted signal of a divided community was being sent out," says Merrett Stierheim, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. "That concerned me more than debating over the dollars."

George Knox, former chairman of the Visitor Industry Council, notes, "This boycott demonstrated that people of African descent have enormous impact on the, tourism industry. According to some reports, the city went almost a year without booking a single convention. "Finally, says boycott leader Smith, "We saw tangible progress in terms of jobs and business opportunities. It was time for us to move on from confrontation to cooperation."

The city is pleased the boycott is over, especially Miami Mayor Xavier L. Suarez. "Now, I think everyone is sensitive to the aspirations, frustrations and needs of the black community," says Suarez.

"The lesson here is that when agencies don't perform adequately, we can initiate pressure on them and get some concessions," he says.
Organization Low-Impact High-Impact
Estimate Estimate Estimate
Improved Benevolent $4,890,600 $9,652,500
Protective Order Elks
of the World
Gospel Music Workshop $4,001.400 $7,897.500
of America
National Modical $2,667,600 $5,265,000
Church of Christ $2,076,750 $4,387,500
General Grand $1,244,880 $2,457,000
Masonic Congress
20 Other Organizatiofts $10,890,612 $21,088,050
25 Orgenizations Total $25,571,842 $50,747,550
*Source: The Miami Heraid, May 13,1993
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:African American activists' boycott against tourist industry
Author:Lewis, Nicole
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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