Citation

“Phil Giles Enterprises: Promoting and Sustaining Tourism and Economic Development in Idlewild, Michigan”

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Abstract:

Although recognition for the development of Idlewild, Michigan as a famed black resort town is shared by several pioneers such as the famous open heart surgeon, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, and other entrepreneurs, the credit belongs largely to the efforts of the Afro-Caribbean Detroit hotel owner and nationally known showman Phil Giles. In addition to renovating, managing, promoting, and operating a 40 plus room resort hotel with a motel attached to it and a popular nightclub, Giles, the visionary, was a catalyst for economic change during Jim Crow Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement by creating business opportunities for other entrepreneurs. The black institutional structures that Giles established and promoted as a pioneering entrepreneur paved the way for the development of Idlewild as the most famous black resort town in the world. The racial uplift ideology and self help philosophy that Giles espoused among thousands of vacationers and businessmen and women were eventually appropriated as a contested site by some residents, which resulted in internal divisions along class and color lines during the mid-to-late 1950s. This essay argues that the divisions created divergences and ultimately led to socioeconomic decline and a false sense of security that complicated future growth, economic prosperity, cultural unity, and social mobility in Idlewild. In the literature on black towns, entertainment and entrepreneurship, this episode in African American history has virtually gone unnoticed. This essay posits that from the late 1940s to the early 1960s Giles opened doors, created opportunities, and raised awareness not only among black entrepreneurs and vacationers but also among politicians and business leaders in Michigan, which has ultimately led to contemporary discussions about stimulating Idlewild’s economy and celebrating its history as a former famous black resort town and national treasure that deserves to be preserved for reasons of tourism, economic development, and cultural memory.
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Association:
Name: 34th Annual National Council for Black Studies
URL:
http://www.ncbsonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p428013_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Stephens, Ronald. "“Phil Giles Enterprises: Promoting and Sustaining Tourism and Economic Development in Idlewild, Michigan”" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 34th Annual National Council for Black Studies, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p428013_index.html>

APA Citation:

Stephens, R. J. "“Phil Giles Enterprises: Promoting and Sustaining Tourism and Economic Development in Idlewild, Michigan”" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 34th Annual National Council for Black Studies, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p428013_index.html

Publication Type: Panelist Abstract
Abstract: Although recognition for the development of Idlewild, Michigan as a famed black resort town is shared by several pioneers such as the famous open heart surgeon, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, and other entrepreneurs, the credit belongs largely to the efforts of the Afro-Caribbean Detroit hotel owner and nationally known showman Phil Giles. In addition to renovating, managing, promoting, and operating a 40 plus room resort hotel with a motel attached to it and a popular nightclub, Giles, the visionary, was a catalyst for economic change during Jim Crow Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement by creating business opportunities for other entrepreneurs. The black institutional structures that Giles established and promoted as a pioneering entrepreneur paved the way for the development of Idlewild as the most famous black resort town in the world. The racial uplift ideology and self help philosophy that Giles espoused among thousands of vacationers and businessmen and women were eventually appropriated as a contested site by some residents, which resulted in internal divisions along class and color lines during the mid-to-late 1950s. This essay argues that the divisions created divergences and ultimately led to socioeconomic decline and a false sense of security that complicated future growth, economic prosperity, cultural unity, and social mobility in Idlewild. In the literature on black towns, entertainment and entrepreneurship, this episode in African American history has virtually gone unnoticed. This essay posits that from the late 1940s to the early 1960s Giles opened doors, created opportunities, and raised awareness not only among black entrepreneurs and vacationers but also among politicians and business leaders in Michigan, which has ultimately led to contemporary discussions about stimulating Idlewild’s economy and celebrating its history as a former famous black resort town and national treasure that deserves to be preserved for reasons of tourism, economic development, and cultural memory.


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