- Ford will honor many of its past and current African-American auto dealers at a celebration of Black History Month on Friday, February 21.
- The event will feature Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., well known for his "Finding Your Roots" series on PBS, and will be hosted by Sherri Shepherd of The View.
- Honorees will include a number of distinguished Ford dealers, many known as much for their community activities as for their entrepreneurship.
DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford will honor many of its past and current African-American auto dealers at its 33rd annual celebration of Black History Month, to be held here on Friday, February 21.
Ford spokesperson Gwen Moore told Edmunds that among the honorees this year is Nate Conyers, at one time Detroit's only African-American auto dealer. Owner of Conyers Ford and later Conyers Riverside Ford, Conyers has received awards from U.S. presidents, mayors and numerous local organizations, both for his entrepreneurship and for his commitment to the community. He got some extra attention in 1998 when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show to give away a Ford F-150 pickup.
Also being honored are Ford dealer Walt Douglas and his sons. Douglas, a community leader and former president of the nonprofit New Detroit Inc., owned the successful Avis Ford dealership in suburban Detroit until his retirement in 2006, when he turned over the reins to the next generation of the Douglas family.
Another honoree is Gregory Jackson, who has run a number of automobile dealerships in the Detroit area, including Courtesy Ford. Founder and CEO of Jackson Automotive Management and Prestige Automotive Group, Jackson became the first African-American auto dealer — and the first African-American business owner — to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Other individuals being honored for their achievements include Eddie Hall of Royal Oak Ford and Briarwood Ford, Gil Johnson of Saginaw Valley Ford Lincoln and Merlton Brandenberg of Jorgensen Ford Sales and Advantage Ford Lincoln Sales.
Moore told Edmunds that the Ford Motor Company currently has a total of 68 African-American dealers throughout the U.S.
The event, organized by the Ford-employees African-Ancestry Network (FAAN), will be hosted by daytime Emmy Award winner and star of The View, Sherri Shepherd, with special guest Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Dr. Gates, well known for his "Finding Your Roots" series on PBS, is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
Edmunds says: Congratulations to the honorees and to Ford for its support of minority-owned dealerships.