In 1939 Prince George’s County landowner McCager Mills met with Doffrey Jones, then manager of the Washington Blacksox, a semi-professional African American baseball club in the area. He agreed to construct a baseball diamond, dugouts and a grandstand on his property where the team would play their games until 1947, including against the Negro League’s Homestead Grays and Baltimore Black Sox. He could not have known, of course, that the site would one day become an African American owned car dealership, Nissan of Bowie.
Though America certainly has a long way to go to achieve something resembling racial equality, moving from a society where African Americans are barred from participating in pro sports leagues to one in which they are pillars in all aspects of life is undoubtedly progress. WANADA Director Damon Lester, Nissan of Bowie’s owner and the president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), agrees. “Access, opportunity, and capital are all challenges to enter our industry, and this is especially true for ethnic minorities as we weren’t allowed to become dealer owners until post civil rights movement,” Lester said. “When the playing field is level, we all win. Diversity in any industry equals growth.”
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Additionally, it is important to recognize the role that African Americans play in the DC region’s retail automobile industry. WANADA joins dealer associations across the country in saluting its African American dealers and dealership employees during Black History Month and echoes NADA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.Download Bulletin PDF