Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: Sep[tember/Octoner issue

A video has been making the rounds on social media recently of an interview with Byron Allen on the Breakfast Club discussing his historic $20 billion lawsuit against cable industry giant Comcast and $10 billion lawsuit against its industry rival Charter, for their alleged discriminatory practices. During the interview he explained that the industry spends $70 billion annually licensing cable networks, but according to Allen, “African-American media get zero,” adding “that’s not fair.”

While Allen prevailed on the Charter lawsuit, another judge ruled against him twice on the Comcast proceedings.  Not satisfied with the ruling, Charter took the case to the 9 th Circuit of Appeals.   Allen said “If you are going to take me to the 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals, I’ll take Comcast to the 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals.   And then something historic happened,” Allen continues, “the 9 th Circuit court of Appeals ruled in our favor, not once, but twice, on both Comcast and Charter.”   

Comcast escalated the dispute even further by taking its case to the Supreme Court, where among other things, they are petitioning the court to strike down Section 1981 of the civil Rights Act of 1866.  Says Allen, ”So we were freed pretty much December of 1865, and instead of getting what some historians believe reciprocity – 40 acres and a mule – we got this law.   We got this law, and it basically says we will have fair contracting, economic inclusion in government contracting and in commercial contracting.”   Allen argues that this law was put on the books 153 years ago to ensure that there would be a pathway for newly freed Blacks to economic inclusion.

The legal proceedings have fueled a firestorm of criticism for Comcast, including the following statement from the NAACP:

Comcast Corporation’s Partnership with the Trump Administration to eviscerate Civil Rights Protections

In several weeks, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most important civil rights cases to come before it this term.  Comcast – the second largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world – is poised to take an unprecedented step. Because of a dispute with a Black businessman, the company has urged the Supreme Court to roll back the crucial protections of one of the nation’s oldest civil rights laws, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

For more than a century, Section 1981 has been used as an important tool to combat race discrimination, particularly for employment discrimination claimants. Throughout the NAACP’s history, standard-bearers of justice like Thurgood Marshall have harnessed the power of Section 1981 to fight various forms of discrimination. Yet now, in a situation that has become all too familiar during this era, an upcoming Supreme Court decision has the potential to reject these lessons of history by rolling back the clock on basic civil rights.

Although the NAACP takes no position on the underlying dispute, we have decided to take the lead on this issue. We urge Comcast to cease its attack on Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866; bedrock civil rights statute that has been in place for more than 150 years.

I understand that the cable industry and the meetings/tourism/hospitality industry are two very different animals.  But we at Black Meetings & Tourism Media recognize that the underlying problem of discriminatory practices is alive and well in both of these industries and many others as well.   There is a reason why African-Americans serve as presidents/CEOs of only 12 of the nation’s over 500 CVBs, or why most destinations, major lodging companies and airlines are not making serious investments to court the African-American market segment.   Need I say more?

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