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Black History Month is a time to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of Black individuals throughout history. The month of February was chosen to honour the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two figures who played a significant role in Black history.
The celebration of Black History Month dates back to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson established the “Negro History Week” to shed light on the achievements of Black Americans. Over time, the week-long celebration evolved into a month-long recognition of Black history, culture, and contributions.
The theme of Black History Month changes every year, but it always focuses on highlighting the accomplishments and experiences of Black individuals, who have overcome adversity and discrimination to make significant contributions to society. From scientists, inventors, and artists, to politicians, activists, and business leaders, Black people have left a lasting impact on the world.
This month is an opportunity to celebrate the past, present, and future of Black people, and to continue to raise awareness about the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. It is also a time to reflect on the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and to work towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.
In conclusion, Black History Month is a celebration of the rich and diverse history and culture of Black people, and a reminder of the important role they have played in shaping our world. Let us continue to honour their legacy and strive for a better future for all.
We have compiled a list of prominent Black figures (past and present) who have had a significant impact on the automotive industry. From innovators to automotive business owners, a large number of Blacks have made a positive impact in this field and opened doors for future generations.
In The Automotive Industry
Although they are not as widely recognized as figures like Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, some people have, and still play important roles in the Black Revolution and are trailblazers in the automotive industry, inspiring change and innovation.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
George Washington Carver's greatest achievement was when he received an invitation from Henry Ford to work at Ford Motors. Carver accepted and had a successful career inventing synthetic rubber, resolving the rubber shortage. Prior to his role at Ford, Carver was the first African American student at Iowa State Agricultural College. He made other important inventions, including alternative fuels, and was a trailblazer in automobile development as the first African American to make a significant impact in the field.
McKinley Thompson Jr. (1922-2006)
Another Ford luminary who achieved significant success in the white microcosm of Ford Motors is Mckinley Thompson Jr. Thompson Jr designed some iconic models during a burgeoning automotive industry.
"Mac," as he is widely known, had a passion for automobile innovation from a young age. However, during World War II, his ambitions were put on hold as he joined the Army Signal Corps to work on communication technology development. He received a scholarship to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and later secured a job at Ford's Design Studio, where he had a talent for creating futuristic models.
Some of his notable designs include the Gryon, Ford Bronco, and Thunderbird. Although some of McKinley Thompson Jr's other concepts were not developed by Ford, they served as the basis for other well-known automobiles.
In 1983, King, a Detroit native, was hired by Ford Motor Co. to become the first Black woman Transportation Designer for Ford. Her portfolio includes some of her best-known work from her nearly 25-year career at the company, including the interior design of the award-winning 1994 Ford Mustang, according to Ford Online. She also contributed to the design of the 1990 Ford Probe and 2000 Ford Thunderbird, among other vehicles in Europe. Also, she patented a 15-inch wheel cover the 1989 Thunderbird.
Tomi Isaacs (Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Catalyst)
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