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  • Writer's pictureDoctor Detroit

Davis Motor Sales...

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

It is only fitting that today, September 25, 2022, as the Detroit Auto Show is ending, that 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. He was fascinated with cars and dreamed of having a career doing something with them. Initially, while attending Cass Tech (go Technicians) he initially wanted to be an accountant but was discouraged to do so. According to him, without saying it outright, he was told a black man could not find employment as an accountant at that time. He then opened his first business as a car washer before being hired by the Dodge Corporation (in the foundry plant), before finally becoming a salesman at a Chrysler dealership in Highland Park, Michigan. Although successful in this position, he was segregated from other salesmen and not allowed to work on the workroom floor. Instead of letting this hold him back, he made lemonade out of lemons and became a successful salesman, before opening his own used car dealership, a year later on December 4, 1939. In 1940, he made history becoming the first black (and only) Studebaker franchise dealer.

In 1963, he again made history 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. 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 was 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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