African-American Automobile New Car Dealers


When BFLMDA approached various governmental agencies in April, 1980; e. g. OMBE and SBA, about support initiatives, it was told that any proposals had to be all inclusive, that is, all requests had to represent all ethnic minority dealers within the automotive industry. In late April/early May, a series of meetings were held in Detroit to formulate a strategy to do just that.

On an interim basis the group identified itself as the Minority Auto Dealers Association (MADA) with Bill Shack being voted chairman. African-American dealers who participated in one or several of these strategy sessions were (alphabetically): Jim Bradley, Clarence Carter, Nathan Conyers, Mel Farr, Sr., Dick Harris, Jesse Jones, Willie Patmon, Bill Shack, Porterfield Wilson, and Jim Woodruff.

A meeting was scheduled for May 31, 1980 in Washington D. C. and minority dealers were contacted requesting their participation. Reports indicate that 37 ethnic minority dealers registered for this session. After much discussion, the group identified three key actions to be presented to the various governmental agencies. They were:

  1. immediate, low interest loans
  2. refundable tax credits for the purchase of new cars and trucks
  3. restructuring of, and moratorium on, repayment of dealer development debt

Following review of these issues and prior to adjournment, the dealers held a caucus and chose the following dealers to represent the organization in future deliberations with the various manufacturers and governmental activities:

Note: Nathan Conyers selected president

The organization was renamed the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD). The first actions were threefold: first, a wire was sent to all minority dealers advising the actions which were being taken and asking for their support. Second, Conyers sent a telegram (June 4, 1980) to President Jimmy Carter asking for his immediate attention to the dealers' problems and lastly, NAMAD began the process of contacting each of the Big Three to discuss the issues facing the dealer body and seek assistance.

Over the years, NAMAD's role in facing off with the domestic manufacturers diminished as the individual associations played a significant role in seeking solutions to their problems. However, in the late-1990's and under the leadership of Shelia Vaden-Williams (Exec. Director), NAMAD directed its resources in getting the import manufacturers to focus on ethnic minority matters. For example, both Toyota and Jaguar established Minority Councils dedicated to increasing ethnic minority employment, supplier base, and dealer count.

NAMAD remains a viable entity in the goal of diversification within the automotive industry.

For additional information, go to

NAMAD Leadership Since 1980

Chairpersons/Presidents/Executive Directors

Year Chairperson President Exec. Director
1980 None elected Nathan Conyers Charles Patrick
1981 None elected Nathan Conyers Charles Patrick
1982 Nathan Conyers James Woodruff Jim Thrower/Earl Lloyd
1983 Nathan Conyers James Woodruff Virgil Anderson
1984 Nathan Conyers James Woodruff Virgil Anderson
1985 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1986 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1987 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1988 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1989 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1990 None elected Jesse Jones Virgil Anderson
1991 Mel Farr, Sr. William McIntosh Robert Hill
1992 Mel Farr, Sr Charles Harrell, Sr. Robert Hill
1993 Charles Harrell, Sr. Larry T. Brown. Robert Hill
1994 Larry T. Brown B. Ed Fitzpatrick Robert Hill
1995 Larry T. Brown B. Ed Fitzpatrick Cynthia Burns
1996 B. Ed Fitzpatrick Martin Cumba Shelia
1997 Martin Cumba Bill Shack Shelia-Vaden-Williams
1998 Winston Pittman CharlesHarrell,Sr. Shelia
1999 Winston Pittman Don Tinsley Shelia
2000 Don Tinsley Sanford Woods Shelia
2001 Steve Harrell Shelia
2002 Steve Harrell Shelia
2003 Steve Harrell Shelia
2004 Steve Harrell Shelia
2005 Jay Park Shelia
2006 Jay Park Shelia
Damon Lester
2007 Desmond Roberts Damon Lester  

Note: During the period 1985-1991, Jesse Jones operated as both Chairperson and President. In 2000, the decision was made to combine the responsibilities of the Executive Director with those of the President. With the exception of Martin Cumba (Hispanic) and Jay Park (Asian American), all of the NAMAD officers have been African-American.

Source: NAMAD files

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