Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rainbow PUSH Coaltition held its 14th annual Global Automotive Summit on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2013, at MGM Grand Casino in Detroit. The event began with an automotive debate about increasing diversity in the automotive industry. Jackson moderated the debate between Toyota and General Motors. “The goal of PUSH is to secure and make sure that the automotive industries are inclusive with the African-American’s within our country. It’s so wonderful to be apart of such a legacy and positive movement and seeing the changes that are being implemented” said TV personality AJ Calloway who also hosted the annual summit this year.
Jesse Jackson- PUSH Founder
What role do you play in supporting African-Americans in the automotive industry?
I struggle for the African-American industry because we are buying more cars than we are selling. Before the recession there were 700 dealerships, today there are only 260. We had 65 top suppliers, now we have 16.
What are some other concerns that you have in regards to African-Americans and the automotive market?
The government bailed out the automotive industry and took the market to China. I’m concerned about that. In every category we are buying more than we are selling, in regards to our share of jobs, contracts, dealerships, advertisements, suppliers and legal professional services. This concerns me therefore we must fight for an even playing field.
Julianne Malveaux- Economist, Author
What are your views concerning African-Americans and the automotive industry today?
From an economic perspective, we’re lagging and dragging and it’s really unfortunate. Fifty years ago, Dr.King said “we have come to the nation’s capitol to cash a check and the check was marked insufficient funds.” Today, the check is still marked with insufficient funds.
What demographic or market segment should the automotive industry invest in for a profitable and sustainable future?
If you look at any demographic, it’s going to show that black and brown people are beginning to push the labor market and will become the majority of the labor market in the year 2060. By 2050, the majority of Americans will be the minorities and from that perspective those are the populations that we must invest in. When you invest in the pipeline, you are really investing in the future of your company and the future of our nation.
How can African-Americans help to make positive investments in support of the auto market?
I think that people of African descent have to begin to protest. I think that we do not buy black as a symbol of self hate but when we buy from companies that disrespect us, that’s a symbol of self hate.” Coalitions like Rainbow PUSH make it easier for us because they offer a platform for us to work from. We have to grow from the inside outward.
Eric Peterson- Vice President Diversity Dealer Relations General Motors
How do you feel about the current issues being discussed concerning minorities and the automotive segments from the stand point of an auto manufacturer?
My perspective toward the issues that we are facing is that they are not black, white, brown or yellow issues. In my opinion, they are green issues. They are issues that we have to decide as a business imperative how we are going to reach the growing segments within the market place. “Each of us has to decide if we’re committed and if so, we need to put our money where our mouth is.”
Glenda Gill- Executive Director Rainbow PUSH Auto Summit
What was the main goal for the automotive advertisement round table discussions?
The session was created to engage the automotive manufacturers with media advertisements and marketing professionals. The goal was for them to see the evolving market place of color and to see how they are going to make investments In Their market place. We had manufacturers on panel from American Honda, Suburu, GM, BMW and more to interface with the marketing executives around when do you decide in investments based in the growth of the market.
How is Rainbow PUSH helping to make a difference toward the African-American automotive market?
We decided to develop a memorandum of understanding (mou). MOU is about advertising and marketing in regards to holding companies accountable as it relates to their market share versus what they’re spending.We decided to develop a standard instead of being told what the goal is. We will make our standards of what we think our fair share is based upon revenue, market shares, and some other variables that we are still developing. No longer will we allow people to tell us “this is what we have for you”. We also want to be strategic partners because we are necessary to one another’s success.
Ricki Fairley- President Dove Marketing
You served on the advertising panel for the auto summit. What marketing and advertisement advice did you have to offer for auto manufactures to help African-Americans?
I thought it was important to serve on the panel because I wanted to make an impression on the car industry that marketing to African- Americans is significantly important to growth of their businesses. Their businesses can only grow with our audience. We love cars. It goes back to Dream Girls “got me a Cadillac car.” Aside from their function, cars are a status symbol for us. I think spending should be really commensurate with the population. If we are 13% of the population, we should get 13 percent of the marketing dollars. It’s as simple as that.