African-American Automobile New Car Dealers
Homer B. Roberts
Homer B. Roberts
1923 - Kansas City

Old Rickenbacker Broughm automobile

Nathan Conyers
Nathan G. Conyers
1970 - Detroit
Ford Motor

Touring car

This is a history of the pioneering African-American men and women who elected to pursue a business career as franchised new car dealers within the automotive industry.

With the advent of the automobile in the late 1890's, it has been estimated there were between 250 – 300 manufacturers which came into existence during the early 1900's. Many such as Ford, GM and Chrysler had staying power while the vast majority went out of business. Some manufacturers established their own sales outlets while others elected to seek out independent business entrepreneurs who could best represent their products in the market place.

The decision to enter into sales and service agreements with an individual was in the best interests of the manufacturer. It placed the financial burden and sale/service responsibilities on their sales networks. It was thought that these individuals with their entrepreneurial drive would maximize sales.

Over the first sixty years, the dealer networks were 'male and white' - ethnic minorities had little opportunity to enter the retail car business as dealers. In 1960, there were a total of 36,000 domestic/import new car dealerships in the U.S.A. - none were black owned. However, as a result of the influence of the Reverend Martin Luther King and the riots of 1967, corporate America began to change the way it did business with ethnic minorities, but particularly African-Americans.

Of the 22,000 industry car new vehicle dealerships presently in place, a significant decline of almost 40% from 1960, it is estimated there are approximately 450 black owned dealerships or 2% of the total. Although the number is small relative to the total African-American USA population (13.5%), it is a beginning.

This website is dedicated exclusively to African-American pioneers: the men and women who sought the 'American Dream" and paved the way for others to enter the retail car automobile business. This site places emphasis on the very 'first' and the efforts of those individuals who opened doors during the 1960–1990 period - they were the pioneers.

... Rusty Restuccia