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Today in Black History, 9/13/2014

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• September 13, 1856 Maria Louise Baldwin, educator and civic leader, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Baldwin graduated from the Cambridge training school for teachers in 1875 and taught in Chestertown, Maryland for two years. In 1881, she was hired to teach at the Agassiz Grammar School of Cambridge. She became principal of the school in 1889, the first African American female principal in Massachusetts. In 1916, a new school was erected, including higher grades, and Baldwin was made master, supervising twelve White teachers and 500 mostly White students. She was one of two women and the only African American master in the Cambridge school system. Baldwin served as master of Agassiz for forty years and under her leadership it was considered one of the best schools in Cambridge. She also taught summer courses for teachers at Hampton Institute and the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney State University). Baldwin also lectured throughout the country on women’s suffrage, poverty, and history. Baldwin died January 9, 1922. Her home in Cambridge was designated a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976 and February 12, 2004 the Agassiz school was renamed the Maria L. Baldwin School.

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Today in Black History, 9/12/2014

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• September 12, 1840 Mary Jane Patterson, the first Black woman to graduate from an established college with a four year degree, was born enslaved in Raleigh, North Carolina. Patterson’s family gained their freedom in 1852 and moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856. Patterson enrolled in Oberlin College in 1857 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, with highest honors, in 1861. After graduation, Patterson taught at various schools, including the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (now Cheyney University) and the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth in Washington, D. C. (now Dunbar High School). Patterson served as the latter school’s first Black principal from 1871 to 1872. She was reappointed to the position from 1873 to 1884. During her administration, the school grew from less than 50 to 172 students. Patterson continued to teach at the school until her death September 24, 1894.

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Today in Black History, 9/11/2014

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• September 11, 1854 Christopher J. Perry, Sr., founder of the Philadelphia Tribune, was born in Baltimore, Maryland but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 13, Perry began writing articles for the local newspapers. In 1881, he began writing for the Northern Daily and eventually became editor of the colored section of The Sunday Mercury. On November 22, 1884, Perry founded the Philadelphia Tribune which quickly became one of the leading African American newspapers in the country. Perry died in 1921 but the Tribune continues to be published and is the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the nation.

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Today in Black History, 9/10/2014

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• September 10, 1836 Caesar Carpentier “C. C.” Antoine, businessman and former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Antoine attended private school as a youth and became fluent in French and English. During the Civil War, he organized Company I of the Seventh Louisiana Colored Regiment and was commissioned a captain. After the war, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and established a grocery business. Antoine was elected a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention and served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1868 to 1872. He also edited the semiweekly New Orleans Louisianan from 1870 to 1872. In 1872, Antoine was elected lieutenant governor, a position he held until 1876 when he was defeated for re-election. In 1880, he became president of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company. Antoine also served as vice president of the citizen’s committee formed in 1890 to wage a legal battle against racial discrimination. The committee also unsuccessfully challenged a state law forbidding interracial marriage. Antoine died September 12, 1921. In 1982, a park in Shreveport was dedicated in Antoine’s honor with a six-foot monument listing his accomplishments. His home in Shreveport is a state historical site.

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Today in Black History, 9/9/2014

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• September 9, 1739 The Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies, began. The rebellion started with about 20 enslaved Africans at the Stono River in the colony of South Carolina. As the group marched south, they were joined by nearly 60 additional enslaved Africans. The Africans killed about 25 White people before encountering a South Carolina militia. In that battle, 20 White people and 44 Africans were killed and the rebellion was ended. In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740 restricting slave assembly, education, and movement. It also enacted a 10 year moratorium against importing enslaved Africans and established penalties against slaveholders’ harsh treatment of enslaved Africans. Now known as the Stono River Slave Rebellion Site, it was declared a National Historic Landmark May 30, 1974. “Cry Liberty,” an interpretation of the events of the rebellion, was published in 2010.

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Today in Black History, 9/8/2014

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• September 8, 1807 Horace King, the most respected bridge builder in Alabama, Georgia, and northeastern Mississippi during the mid-1800s, was born enslaved in the Chesterfield District of South Carolina. In 1830, King was purchased by a contractor who taught him bridge building skills. Soon, the pupil became more skilled than the teacher. Between 1838 and 1840, King supervised the construction of toll bridges over the Chattahoochee River. During the early 1840s, he designed and constructed bridges in Alabama and Mississippi. In 1846, King earned his emancipation. In the early 1850s, the state of Alabama hired King to do carpentry work, including construction of the circular staircases at the new capitol building in Montgomery. During the Civil War, King was forced by Confederate officials to build blockades on the Apalachicola River and Alabama River to prevent Union navigation. He was also forced to build a large mill to supply wood products for Confederate naval facilities. After the war, King served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1870 to 1874. King died May 28, 1885. In 1989, a historical marker honoring King was unveiled in LaGrange, Georgia.

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Today in Black History, 9/7/2014

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 • September 7, 1854 Free Frank McWorter, the first African American to incorporate a municipality in the United States, died. McWorter was born enslaved August 11, 1777 in South Carolina. In 1795, his owner moved to Kentucky and took him along to build and manage his holdings and to lease him out to work for others. McWorter used his earnings to create a successful saltpeter production operation. By 1817, he had earned enough to buy the freedom of his wife and two years later his own. In 1830, McWorter and his family moved to Pike County, Illinois and in 1836 he founded the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois. By the time of his death, McWorter had bought the freedom of 16 members of his family. McWorter’s gravesite was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places April 19, 1988 and a portion of I-72 in Pike County is designated the Frank McWorter Memorial Highway. The New Philadelphia town site was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 2005 and designated a National Historic Landmark January 16, 2009. McWorter’s biography, “Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier,” was published in 1983.

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Today in Black History, 9/6/2014

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• September 6, 1877 Charles Joseph “Buddy” Bolden, cornetist and a key figure in the development of ragtime music, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Not much is known about Bolden’s early life but by the mid-1890s he had formed a series of bands and created a looser, more improvised version of ragtime and added blues to it. Between 1900 and 1906, Bolden’s band was the hottest group in New Orleans. In 1906, Bolden began to show signs of mental instability and in 1907 was confined to the State Insane Asylum where he died November 4, 1931. There are no known surviving recordings of his performances but he is associated with several songs, including “Careless Love,” “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It,” and “Funky Butt.” Many other New Orleans jazz musicians, including Joe “King” Oliver, were inspired by Bolden’s playing. Jelly Roll Morton described Bolden as “the blowingest man since Gabriel” and several jazz historians have referred to him as “the father of jazz.” Several books have been written about Bolden, including “The Loudest Trumpet: Buddy Bolden and the Early History of Jazz” (2000) and “In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz” (2005).

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Today in Black History, 9/5/2014

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• September 5, 1846 John Wesley Cromwell, historian, educator and lawyer, was born enslaved in Portsmouth, Virginia. After his father gained the family’s freedom, Cromwell graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University) in 1864. In 1873, he graduated from Howard University Law School and the next year was admitted to the District of Columbia bar. In 1876, Cromwell founded the weekly paper The People’s Advocate. On December 22, 1887, Cromwell became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the Interstate Commerce Commission when he served as counsel for the plaintiff in William H. Heard v. Georgia Railroad Company. A gifted organizer, Cromwell helped organize the Virginia Educational and Historical Association and the National Colored Press Association. He was a founder of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association and in 1897 was a founding member of the American Negro Academy, an organization created to stimulate and demonstrate intellectual capabilities among African Americans. In 1914, Cromwell published his most influential work, “The Negro in American History: Men and Women Eminent in the Evolution of the American of African Descent” which influenced Carter G. Woodson to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History the following year. Cromwell also published “The First Negro Churches in The District of Columbus” in 1917. Cromwell died April 14, 1927. “Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation, 1692 – 1972” was published in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 9/4/2014

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• September 4, 1845 Lewis Morrison, one of the most prominent stage actors of his time, was born Morris W. Morris in Kingston, Jamaica. Morrison immigrated to the United States as a youth. When the Civil War began, he joined the 1st Louisiana Native Guard, the first official Black regiment of the Confederacy, and rose to the rank of lieutenant. When the Louisiana legislature banned people of color from serving in the Confederate Army, Morrison joined the Union Army. After the war, he made his stage debut in New Orleans. In 1874, he moved to San Francisco where he performed for the next three years. By the 1880s, Morrison had moved back east and was playing leading roles opposite famous stage actors of that time. Morrison formed his own touring company and in 1889 began portraying Mephistopheles in “Faust.” He played that role for the next 15 years and became a worldwide icon. Morrison died in 1906.

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Today in Black History, 9/3/2014

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• September 3, 1843 Andrew Jackson Smith, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born enslaved in Kentucky. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith’s owner joined the Confederate military with the intention of taking Smith with him. When Smith learned of his intentions, he escaped and joined the Union Army. By November 30, 1864, Smith was serving as a corporal in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. On that day, he participated in the Battle of Honey Hill in South Carolina and his actions during the battle earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, “Forced into a narrow gorge crossing a swamp in the face of the enemy position, the 55th’s Color-Sergeant was killed by an exploding shell, and Corporal Smith took the Regimental Colors from his hands and carried them through heavy grape and canister fire. Although half of the officers and a third of the enlisted men engaged in the fight were killed or wounded, Corporal Smith continued to expose himself to enemy fire by carrying the colors throughout the battle. Through his actions, the Regimental Colors of the 55th Infantry Regiment were not lost to the enemy.” Smith was promoted to color sergeant before leaving the army. He was initially nominated for the medal in 1916 but was denied. Smith died March 4, 1932. It was not until January 16, 2001 that President William J. Clinton presented the medal to Smith’s descendants.

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September 2014 Events at The Wright Museum

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SPECIAL EVENTS

30 Days to Lose It! Season Five Kickoff
Tuesday, September 2 at 6 pm

SEASON FIVE of this popular fitness program for women kicks off with, free health screenings by the Henry Ford Health System, prizes, refreshments courtesy of Southern Nosh, and mingling with the fitness instructors for this season, plus Carla Triplett of NBC’s "The Biggest Loser" and other local notables. Don’t forget to bring your workout clothes, hand weights and exercise mats for the 7:30 pm boot camp with Miss USA 1990, Carole Gist Stramler of Royal Physique Fitness. The workout is free for museum members and only $5 for nonmembers. Sponsored by Beaumont Health System and St. John Providence Health System. http://thewright.org/upcoming-events/details/1175-30-days-to-lose-it-season-five-kickoff

Tribute to General Gordon Baker, Jr.: "The Evolution of a Revolutionary"
Saturday, September 6 at 6:30 pm

In honor of the late General Baker, Jr., The Wright Museum hosts "The Evolution of a Revolutionary" both as tribute his life and legacy, and prelude to the Liberation Film Series 2014 - 2015: Human Rights: Self-Respect, Self-Defense and Self-Determination. This special event features Marian Kramer, John Williams, Ron March, Frank Joyce, Dr. Aneb Kgositsile, Dr. Luke Tripp, and more. Free. http://thewright.org/upcoming-events/details/1173-tribute-to-general-gordon-baker-jr-qthe-evolution-of-a-revolutionaryq

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Today in Black History, 9/2/2014

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• September 2, 1766 James Forten, abolitionist and businessman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 15, Forten served on a ship during the Revolutionary War and invented a device to handle ship sails. In 1786, he started a very successful sailmaking company and became one of the wealthiest African Americans in post-colonial America. Forten, with the help of Rev. Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, enlisted 2,500 African Americans to defend Philadelphia during the War of 1812. They also worked together to establish the Convention of Color in 1817. By the 1830s, Forten was one of the most powerful voices for people of color throughout the North. In 1833, he helped William Lloyd Garrison and Robert Purvis form the American Anti-Slavery Society and provided generous financial support to the organization over the years. When Forten died March 4, 1842, he left behind an exemplary family, a sizable fortune, and a legacy of philanthropy and activism that inspired generations of Black Philadelphians. On April 24, 1990, a historical marker was dedicated in his honor in Philadelphia. His biography, “A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten,” was published in 2002.

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Today in Black History, 9/1/2014

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• September 1, 1869 Robert Tanner Freeman became the first African American to receive a dental degree when he graduated from Harvard University Dental School. Freeman was born in 1846 in Washington, D. C. and was encouraged to pursue a career in dentistry as a way to help alleviate the suffering of other African Americans. Freeman applied to, and was rejected by, two colleges before he was accepted in the inaugural class at Harvard. Upon graduation, he returned to Washington, D. C. to set up a private practice. Unfortunately, Freeman died four years later. The Washington, D. C. chapter of the National Dental Association in named The Robert T. Freeman Dental Society.

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Today in Black History, 8/31/2014

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• August 31, 1817 Charles Henry Langston, abolitionist and political activist, was born in Louisa County, Virginia. In 1835, Langston and his brother enrolled in the preparatory school at Oberlin College, the first Black students to be admitted. After graduating, he became involved in Black political affairs in Ohio. In 1958, he was one of a group of men who freed John Price who had escaped slavery and was captured by United States Marshals under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. This incident was known as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue. Langston and a White man were tried and convicted for their part in the rescue. In 1862, Langston moved to Leavenworth, Kansas where he established a school for Black people who had escaped slavery and in 1865 was appointed general superintendent for refugees and freedmen for the Freedmen’s Bureau of Kansas. In 1872, Langston was appointed president of Quindaro Freedman’s School (later Western University), the earliest college for Black people west of the Mississippi River. Langston also served as associate editor of the Historic Times, a local paper that advocated for equal rights and justice for Black people. Langston died November 24, 1892.

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Today in Black History, 8/30/2014

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• August 30, 1901 Roy Wilkins, civil rights leader, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Wilkins earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1923. In 1931, he became assistant executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From 1934 to 1949, he served as the editor of The Crisis magazine, the official organ of the organization. In 1955, Wilkins was named executive secretary (renamed director in 1964) of the NAACP. In 1950, he co-founded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Wilkins participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965, and the March Against Fear in 1966. In 1964, Wilkins was awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Lyndon B. Johnson January 20, 1967. He retired from the NAACP in 1977. Wilkins died September 8, 1981. His autobiography, “Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins,” was published in 1982. The Roy Wilkins Centre for Human Relations and Human Justice was established at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in 1992.

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Today in Black History, 8/29/2014

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• August 29, 1910 Vivien Theodore Thomas, surgical technician and animal surgeon, was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. After graduating from high school, Thomas had hoped to go to college and become a doctor. However, the Great Depression derailed his plans. In 1930, he secured a job with Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University. Although doing the job of a laboratory assistant, Thomas was classified and paid as a janitor. In 1941, Blalock accepted the position of chief of surgery at John Hopkins Hospital and requested that Thomas accompany him. On November 29, 1944, using the tools adapted by Thomas from the animal lab and with Thomas at his shoulder coaching him, Blalock performed the first surgery to relieve “blue baby syndrome.” The operation came to be known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt and Thomas received no mention. Over his 38 years at John Hopkins, Thomas trained many surgeons that went on to become chiefs of surgical departments around the country and in 1968 they commissioned the painting of his portrait which hangs next to Blalock’s in the lobby of the Alfred Blalock Clinical Sciences Building. Thomas died November 26, 1985. The Vivian Thomas Young Investigator Awards are given by the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesiology and in 2004 the city of Baltimore opened the Vivian T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy. Thomas’ autobiography, “Partners of the Heart: Vivian Thomas and his Work with Alfred Blalock” was published in 1985 and in 2004 his story was told in the HBO film “Something the Lord Made.”

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Black Philanthropy Month Spotlight: Magic Johnson #BPM2014

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August 1st marks the beginning of Black Philanthropy Month 2014 (#BPM2014), a month-long, multimedia campaign designed to inform, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership. Founded by the African Women’s Development Fund USA and proclaimed by the United Nations and Congress in August 2011, BPM was created as an annual, global celebration of giving in the U.S. and worldwide. This year’s theme is “Generosity at Home and Around the Globe.” Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for our daily profile of black philanthropists.

Ervin "Magic" Johnson, Jr.: NBA Legend, Businessman, Broadcaster, Motivational Speaker, Philanthropist

Magic

Magic Johnson is a retired National Basketball Association (NBA) player and NBA Hall of Fame member.  Since retiring in 1992, Magic has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex.  Magic’s early philanthropic efforts date back to 1985, when he created A Midsummer Night’s Magic, an event in which proceeds from an annual charity event, which included a celebrity basketball game and a black tie dinner, were donated to the United Negro College Fund.  A Midsummer Night’s Magic, eventually came under the umbrella of the Magic Johnson Foundation (MJF), and lasted until the event’s 20th anniversary in 2005. 

The Magic Johnson Foundation, which he founded in 1991, was initially focused on the fight against HIV/AIDS, but has since expanded to include scholarship programs and community empowerment centers.  MJF works to address the educational, health, and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities by developing programs and providing support for community-based organizations.  Through direct and collaborative services and programs, MJF serves more than 250,000 individuals each year, enhancing the lives of economically challenged people and empowering underserved communities.

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Today in Black History, 8/28/2014

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• August 28, 1818 Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, The Father of Chicago, Illinois, died. Du Sable’s birth date is unknown but it is generally believed that he was born around 1745 in what is now Haiti. Not much is known of his early life. Du Sable first arrived on the western shores of Lake Michigan around 1779 where he built the first permanent non-indigenous settlement just east of the present Michigan Avenue Bridge. From 1780 to 1784, he managed a huge tract of woodlands on the St. Clair River. Du Sable also operated the first fur-trading post. He left Chicago in 1800 for Peoria, Illinois and in 1813 moved to St. Charles, Missouri where he died. In 1968, the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago declared Du Sable “the Founder of Chicago” and erected a granite marker at his grave. His home site in Chicago was designated a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976 and in 1987 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor. DuSable High School and the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago are named in his honor. The DuSable Heritage Association in Chicago works to promote the legacy of DuSable.

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Black Philanthropy Month Spotlight: Walt Douglas #BPM2014

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August 1st marks the beginning of Black Philanthropy Month 2014 (#BPM2014), a month-long, multimedia campaign designed to inform, inspire and invest in Black philanthropic leadership. Founded by the African Women’s Development Fund USA and proclaimed by the United Nations and Congress in August 2011, BPM was created as an annual, global celebration of giving in the U.S. and worldwide. This year’s theme is “Generosity at Home and Around the Globe.” Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for our daily profile of black philanthropists.

Walt Douglas: "The Activist Entrepreneur"

WaltDouglas

Walt Douglas was born and raised in North Carolina, and received both his Bachelor’s Degree and Masters in Business Administration from North Carolina Central University. Although his formative years were spent as a Tar Heel, Douglas became an instant Detroiter when he moved to the city in 1966. To become familiar with the area and its people, he began volunteering and was noticed by city leaders. In 1972 Douglass joined New Detroit, Incorporated as the organizations Vice President, working with the group to address Detroit’s employment and racial tensions.

In addition to his civic engagement, Douglass utilized his background in business to gain recognition as a respected entrepreneur in southeastern Michigan. His co-purchase of Avis Ford in 1986 eventually lead to majority ownership of the car dealership in 1992; today the company has grown to be one of the most successful African American owned dealerships in the country and is owned by his son, Mark Douglas.

Douglas continues to invest in the local and surrounding communities, giving monetarily and by donation of his time and influence. Douglas sits on the Board of Trustees for the Charles. H. Wright Museum of African American history and has supported the institution immensely over the past decade through endowments, event sponsorships, and annual gifts.

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