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Davis Motor Sales

On December 4, 1939, Ed Davis opened Davis Motor Sale and Service dealership. Just a year later, in 1940, he made history by becoming the first black owner of a new-car dealership in the United States when he secured a Studebaker franchise. Previously, in 1939, Davis worked as a car salesman at a white-owned dealership in Highland Park. However, he faced discrimination, being barred from the showroom floor with the other white salesmen and instead relegated to a secluded storage area that he converted into an office.

Despite these challenges, Davis ensured that black customers received fair, dignified, and respectful treatment. This commitment earned him a loyal following of customers when he launched his own dealership. Davis Motor Sales and Service was located at 421-37 East Vernor.

Throughout his life, Davis achieved many milestones. In 1979, he authored an autobiography titled One Man's Way, which chronicles his remarkable life journey and provides valuable advice and insights on various subjects.

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In his autobiography, Davis recounts a time when he joined the Detroit Sales Executive Club at the suggestion of a friend. He submitted his application and was accepted without the club knowing he was black. However, when he attended his first meeting at the Statler Hotel, he was informed, '...You won't be comfortable here. We'll refund your money. This was a mistake. We don't have any colored people in the organization.'

The following day, the club's president and membership chairman visited him at his dealership. They attempted to return his dues check, and when he refused to accept it, they informed him that his membership would not be renewed the following year. Despite this setback, Davis persisted in attending the club's meetings, where he continued to learn and network with other businessmen.

His experiences, as documented in the next three pages of his book, highlight the persistence and resilience required to navigate racial discrimination. Over forty years later, his words and wisdom still hold significant relevance.

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