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Two Howard University graduates have launched a venture that pays homage to Black history and culture. Two years after creating their own boutique hotel hospitality management company Homage, Marcus Carey and Damon Lawrence recently opened the doors to their New Orleans-based hotel that highlights Black trailblazers and historic moments that are embedded in fabric of African-American history, Howard University reported.

The hotel—dubbed The Moor—opened on July 1. It lives inside of a Spanish-colonial structure that was built 97 years ago. Both Carey and Lawrence wanted their establishment to capture the vibrant essence of NOLA while incorporating architectural elements that were inspired by North African Moors. The hotel features four suites with kitchenettes, bedrooms, and living spaces. When creating the hotel, the entrepreneurs wanted to cultivate a space where those who stay can learn about how African-Americans had an influence on the surrounding community. The entrepreneurs hope to increase Black representation in hospitality ownership.

“It is important to create a space for travelers that is authentic to the locale of the neighborhood our hotels represent,” Lawrence said in a statement. “Our form of hospitality is no different than the love, appreciation and gratitude felt during Homecoming at Howard. That form of hospitality is inherently ours as African-Americans and now it’s time to be highlighted on a large scale and we’re making room for that to happen.”

Under their Homage brand, the two entrepreneurs hope to open more boutique hotels in communities where Blacks are thriving. According to Blavity, they’re eyeing places like Brooklyn, Detroit, and Washington, D.C.

With the current racial climate, more establishments like The Moor are needed. During a July 4 stay at the Art Ovation Hotel in Sarasota, Florida, an African-American CEO found a note with a racial slur in his room. In June, a white man at a Westin hotel in Pasadena, California asked a Black mother and her daughter if they had bathed before getting into the hotel pool. Racially charged situations like these have become all too common and presents a need for more safe spaces for people of color when they travel.

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