The early 1900’s were the beginning years for African Americans and automobile advertising. When the Motorcar became part of everyday transportation for Americans, many African Americans were featured in spark plug, tire ads, and other rare advertising to promote the automobile.
The Patterson-Greenfield Automobile Company featured its 1922-25 advertisements for the Greenfield Bus Body which appeared in the nation's commercial vehicle trade journals with only a handful of information distributed. At the time, C.R. Patterson Company was the only known African American owned and operated automobile manufacturing enterprise.
On May 13, 1914, Joe Louis, also known as the “Brown Bomber” was born. During the 1930’s, he was known as a professional boxer and became the World Heavyweight champion from 1937-1949. During 1935, Joe Louis and Buick created a great team effort for Buick advertising. During 1937, Buick sponsored the fight between Mr. James Braddock and Mr. Joe Louis at Comiskey Park, Chicago on June 22nd, 1937. Buick was the host of the show while McCarthy and Hill broadcasted the fight.
Joe Louis accepted a new 1935 Buick from the Fraser Motor Company located in Detroit, MI. This moment generated a positive relationship within the African American community and soon thereafter, many African Americans purchased 1935-46 Buick models. Throughout the 1970’s, the Buick was the automobile choice among the African American community and the Electra 225 was known as the “deuce and a quarter”.
Many African Americans also purchased Studebaker models. This was mainly due to the fact that Mr. Ed. Davis was the only African American Studebaker franchised dealer in Detroit, MI. During the 1940's and 50's, African Americans began purchasing many Ford, Chrysler, and Chevrolet models since many of them where employed within their auto factories.
During three periods of tight labor markets, World War I, II, and from 1962-2012, African Americans made memorable marks within the automotive industry. The availability of African American labor to a growing automobile industry during critical moments has provided an extraordinary mutual advantage. There can be no argument that the industries need and availability are the most significant facts in African Americans becoming such an important part of the auto industry's labor force. Throughout many memorable history movements, Buick was the name plate that held number one for the automobile to purchase within the African American community.
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