Screenshot from ABC Tampa Bay

Black CEO Finds Racial Slur Written on Note in Hotel Room

UPDATE 7/10 – Statement from Marriott provided to DiversityInc:

We understand and share the concerns of our Sarasota community and our guests regarding recent events. We sincerely apologize for the family’s experience and have shared our apologies directly with them. Due to the concerning nature of the situation, we immediately launched a thorough internal investigation including checking the electronic memory of the guest room locks. Our investigation has found no evidence that any associate of the hotel was involved in this incident. Additional findings have indicated that the offensive note appears to have already been in the room, likely left by a previous occupant, when the guests checked in and was not directed at the guests in any way.

We will continue to work closely with the Sarasota Police Department as they pursue this matter.

The safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance to us and we remain committed to providing an environment where all feel welcome. Again, we apologize to all those impacted by this experience and regardless of the source of this note, we deeply regret that any guest of ours had to endure this situation.Even high up the corporate ladder, racism is unavoidable.

Original story continued below:

Even high up the corporate ladder, racism is unavoidable.

Frank Davis, president and CEO of The Horizon Group, found this out firsthand when he found a handwritten note in his hotel room that read, “You’re a n****r.”

And, #VacationingWhileBlack makes its way on the list.

“This is something in 2018 you don’t expect this kind of thing to happen,” Davis told WWSB, an ABC affiliate. He added that he has not been subjected to racism like that since the 1960s.

Davis and his family were vacationing in Sarasota, Fla., when they found the note. They left their room to go shopping and get a bite to eat and found the note in a lamp in their room when they returned.

The family alerted the local police, who called it “a free speech incident and not a formal criminal matter,” according to Davis.

The incident happened at the Art Ovation Hotel, which offered Davis and his family a free night stay. But they had no desire to stay at the hotel any longer, especially since Davis believes it may have been a staff member who wrote the note in the first place.

“That is either the hotel staff or someone who bamboozled the hotel staff in letting them have access to my room for some unknown reason,” he told WWSB.

Davis has been committed to diversity all his life, making the incident even more jarring.

“It is critical that we all be champions for diversity and inclusion every day,” he told the Post.

Davis graduated from Bucknell University in 1982 with a degree in electrical engineering.

Earlier this year he made a $5 million donation to his alma mater, in part to support diversity initiatives which are important to him on a personal level.

“My freshman roommate, Vergel Blake ’82, and I were two of perhaps only six African-American electrical engineering majors who graduated from Bucknell over a 10-year period,” he told the university at the time. “When I was a student, diversity meant trying to make people of color more comfortable on campus. Since then, it has evolved into a multifaceted endeavor woven into the fabric of the institution.”

Davis’ 27-year-old son, Michael Davis, told the New York Post, “I was stone cold for 30 to 40 seconds when I read the note.”

“My first thought was, what did we do to deserve this We tipped well, we were beyond nice to all the staff.”

The Art Ovation Hotel is a Marriott hotel.

According to the Post, a Marriott VP contacted Michael Davis and apologized. The family was refunded their rewards points that they put toward their stay but the family ultimately had to stay at a hotel two hours away.

A Marriott spokesperson told the outlet that the company is planning a “sensitivity training” at the hotel. It has not been reported that anyone was fired.

Marriott did not return DiversityInc’s request for comment.

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