The 14th Annual Global Automotive Summit got underway at Detroit’s MGM Grand hotel with a powerful panel of speakers addressing a number of hotbed issues relating to economic parity in the nation’s automotive industry. Executives of all major automobile manufacturers were present with the exception of Hyundai, which declined Rainbow PUSH’s invitation to attend.
The event’s founder, Rev. Jesse Jackson opened the historic event with a moment of silence for Evelyn Lowery, wife of famed civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery who is being buried today in Atlanta, after succumbing to a stroke late last.
Jackson followed with a startling statement. “The single largest employer of blacks in Chicago, are other blacks. Over 150,000 blacks in that city work for other blacks so small businesses matter.” He added that conversely, “Detroiters have had their right of democracy stripped from them. … but, so long as the playing field is even, the rules are public, the goals are clear and the referee is fair, we stand a reasonable chance.”
The automotive industry lost 600 minority suppliers as a result of the Great Recession. Jackson urged summit participants to secure their fair share of a multi-million dollar IPO currently being offered by the Chrysler Corporation.
The summit’s moderator, Ed Gordon of BET introduced an impressive panel of speakers including: Ted Childs Strategic Diversity Adviser, Ted Childs, LLC; George C. Fraser, chairman and CEO, FraserNet, Inc.; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and president emeritus Bennett College; John W. Rogers, founder and CIO, Ariel Investments, and Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior VP government relations, Nielsen.
Glenda Gil, executive director, Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project, told summit participants, “As our global landscape becomes more diverse we have to take off are cultural blinders. … One thing I know for sure is that we deserve a place at the table of an industry we helped build. This is not charity, philanthropy or hand-outs … this is what we have earned!