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Davis Motor Sales...

Updated: Mar 13

It is only fitting that today, September 25, 2022, as the Detroit Auto Show comes to a close, I take a moment to give a huge shout-out to Edward Davis. Ed Davis was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, before relocating to Detroit to live with an aunt and uncle. Fascinated with cars, he dreamed of having a career in the automotive industry. Initially, while attending Cass Tech (go Technicians), he aspired to be an accountant but was discouraged from pursuing it. According to him, though not said outright, he was told that a black man could not find employment as an accountant at that time.

Undeterred, he started his career as a car washer before being hired by the Dodge Corporation in the foundry plant. Eventually, he became a salesman at a Chrysler dealership in Highland Park, Michigan. Despite his success, he faced segregation from other salesmen and was not allowed to work on the showroom floor. Instead of letting this setback hold him back, he turned it into an opportunity and became a successful salesman. In 1939, just a year later, he opened his own used car dealership.

In 1940, he made history by becoming the first black (and only) Studebaker franchise dealer. In 1963, he made history again by becoming the first black franchise owner for one of the Big Three when he was awarded a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Ed Davis retired from the car business in 1971 but his retirement was short-lived. On October 1, 1971, he was appointed general manager for the Department of Street Railways by Mayor Roman Gribbs in Detroit.

In 1996, he became the first black person elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame. Three years later, on May 3, 1999, Ed Davis passed away. For more details about his fascinating life, read his autobiography, "One Man's Way."


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