A century ago, Kelsey Pharr Sr. relocated to Miami and settled in Colored Town, now called Overtown. It was one of the residential areas assigned by custom and law to black people because of race. A college-educated black man from Chester, South Carolina, in 1912 he was hired in Miami as a hotel “bellboy,” one of the few jobs then available downtown to black males.
Eventually, Pharr (1891-1964) decided to work for himself and established several businesses. He and Andrew “Andy” Ingraham never met, but both were visionaries who evolved into entrepreneurs.
Born in 1954 in Nassau, Bahamas, Ingraham’s family owned a travel company and several other hometown businesses. After completing his education in Jamaica, attending Miami Dade College and Florida International University, Ingraham worked with his brother, Philip, in their father’s Miami restaurant, the Bahamian Connection on Northwest Second Avenue and 44th Street.
One of several black appointees to the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism, Andy Ingraham later established the International Multicultural Tourism and Hotel Ownership Conference, which sought ways to increase vendor opportunities and executive level jobs in hotels nationally for minorities. The intent was/is to create wealth within the greater African-American community. In 1999, Ingraham established the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD). He is president and CEO.
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The association’s regional conference grew into a national summit. An estimated 500 are expected to register for the annual International Multicultural & Heritage Tourism Summit & 2015 Trade Show, July 17-19 at the Biscayne Bay Marriott Miami hotel. The three-day summit is designed to educate attendees on how to gain a share of the multibillion-dollar multicultural and heritage tourism industry revenue, share minority travel trends, learn to market multicultural and heritage tourism, and look at diversity issues affecting the hospitality industry. The summit is also intended to empower urban and rural communities to become self-sufficient through development and marketing. Registration information is available at http://www.multiculturaltourismsummit.com/.
At the Summit, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) will debut its new Multicultural Tourism and Development Department focusing on developing the growing market and making sure that tourism impacts the minority business community and neighborhoods. Multicultural and heritage tourism is the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry.
Last month , GMCVB President and CEO William D. Talbert III announced the hiring of Connie Kinnard as the organization’s vice president of multicultural tourism. She began on June 1.
A national firm was engaged to conduct a search for top candidates to spearhead the newly created department dedicated to the bureau’s evolving efforts to raise awareness of the destination’s vibrant multicultural communities and neighborhoods. A screening committee comprised of a diverse group of community and industry leaders reviewed more than 40 applications for the position.
“We were delighted with the number of highly qualified applicants received locally and from across the country for this critical position at the GMCVB,” said Carole Ann Taylor, a bureau executive committee member who served on the screening committee. “Ultimately, Connie Kinnard’s 20 years of experience and success specializing in multicultural tourism made her the standout professional for the GMCVB position and the recommendation of the committee.”
“It is a pleasure to welcome Connie to the GMCVB Team,” Talbert says. “We are looking forward to introducing her to our local industry and community partners. The knowledge, experience and enthusiasm she brings to her new position at the GMCVB will take our multicultural tourism efforts to a new level.”
Prior to joining the bureau, Kinnard held the position of senior vice president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. She began in Nashville working in convention sales and later was promoted to vice president of multicultural sales & development. She holds a master’s degree in Management from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s of business administration in management from Tennessee State University, a historically black university.
Kinnard is an active member of numerous industry organizations such as the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals, the Urban League and NAACP. In Nashville, she led increased efforts in marketing and securing large multicultural conventions.
One hundred years ago, entrepreneur Kelsey Pharr was recording secretary of Miami’s Colored Board of Trade. In a white daily newspaper, The Miami Metropolis, he edited an entire page describing the pride of black business owners and organizations. Published in 1915, Pharr’s editorial column declared, “We have employed this means of advertisement, that we might inform and possibly persuade the best of the colored people … the country over to come to our community.”
A century later, the newly formed GMCVB multicultural tourism department issued this statement: “The vision is to see the multicultural communities in Miami become leading destinations for lovers of multicultural tourism.”
“The mission is to ensure that multicultural communities and neighborhoods are marketed, showcased, promoted, supported and serviced by expanding tourism opportunities to individuals and groups,” the statement continues. “To assure that heritage neighborhoods in Miami are positioned for success through an ongoing and clear commitment to multicultural tourism and community development by the GMCVB, local and state governments, underpinned by public policy and funding frameworks.”
This GMCVB initiative highlights people of color and embraces the entire community.
Perhaps the legacy of one migrant and one immigrant entrepreneur who never met is bringing race and culture together creating Miami’s new cultural phenomena, multicultural tourism. “Without vision, the people perish,” Andy Ingraham said with pride.
Dorothy Jenkins Fields, PhD, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.