ON THIS DATE in 1964, eighteen-year-old Tracy Sims led a demonstration at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel. The protest targeted the lack of minority hiring by San Francisco hotels and resulted in the police dragging her and 166 others to jail for disturbing the peace.
A San Francisco Examiner columnist grumbled that Sims, an African American, lacked the maturity to lead such a protest. Can “Negro leaders really expect to be taken seriously when they allow themselves to be represented in their struggle by an eighteen-year-old girl in the full flush of adolescent arrogance?” wrote Charles Denton.
The protest resulted in the city’s mayor, John Shelly, pulling Sims, plus a lawyer for the Hotel Owners Association, and others into his office to settle the dispute. Sims, Roy Ballard, and the hotels’ lawyer wound up signing a nondiscrimination policy by 33 hotels that established a goal of 15 to 20 percent minority employees at the hotels, inspections to determine compliance, and amnesty for the demonstrators — a huge victory for Sims and the other protesters.