Rainbow PUSH Holds 22nd Annual Global Automotive Summit in Detroit

The automotive industry gathered in Detroit, Wednesday, November 10 for the 22nd Rainbow PUSH Annual Global Automotive Summit which was held at the Motor City Casino Hotel and Convention Center.  This year’s Summit attracted over 400 automotive executives, entrepreneurs, suppliers, dealers, manufacturers, consumers, government and elected officials.

“Rainbow PUSH is working with automakers to meet advertising, marketing, dealerships, personnel and supplier goals,” said Reverend Jackson, founder and president, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “We have accomplished so much together, but the best is yet to come, as we push to achieve higher goals.”

This year’s theme, Expanding the Minority Opportunities During Electrification, addressed potential disparity gaps in the EV supply chain for African American and other minority suppliers, dealers and professionals.

“It’s an opportunity to say to the automotive industry that we’re here,” said Greg Jackson, owner of Prestige Automotive Group. “Unless someone says that we’re here, we’re forgotten.”

Under his leadership, Prestige Automotive has grossed billions of dollars in sales over the years. At one time, he operated a total of 18 automobile dealerships. He felt it was important to attend the annual summit, seeing it as an opportunity to network and build consciences and business relationships for Black people operating in the automotive industry.

“I often say, the Caucasian world, the business world, they’re not out doing things against African American people, they’re just out doing for themselves,” Greg Jackson said. “Someone has to be declaring a call to say we’re here, we matter, we’re consumers, we can do well by you.”

The Summit facilitated an important discussion with minority companies while focusing on an inclusive strategy. Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project has played an important role in solidifying the addition of diverse dealerships throughout the country. In addition, Rainbow PUSH is also responsible for the emergence of several African American advertising agencies of record in the automotive space and the significant gains in C-suite positions.


The Summit pursued multiple sessions throughout the day with Marc Bland, chief diversity officer of IHS-Market, the automotive industry’s leading information source, who delved into the statistics, trends and sales analysis. It also put a spotlight on the corporate responsibility of auto companies and analyzed data through a social justice lens.

Panels featured robust discussions of the industry’s global purchasing leaders such as the President of Global Commodity Purchasing and Supplier Technical Assistance for Ford Motor Company; Mark Willoughby, vice president of purchasing for Honda Development & Manufacturing of America, and Robert Young, group vice president of purchasing supplier development for Toyota Motor North America.

This year presents a challenging time for the industry amid a global pandemic and supply shortages for manufacturing vehicles which presents an additional barrier for Black dealers and suppliers.

“We don’t have cars for sale because of the chip shortage; they’re not making cars and not shipping it to our lots,” said Greg Jackson. “There’s been a slowdown in car sales …I want to say everyone is effected equally but we’re [Black automotive business owners] never effected equally.”

Lack of access to capital is a part of the gap he attributes to opportunity and success for Black business in the automotive space.

A segment of the Summit also featured awards and recognition, with Piston Group, the largest African American auto supplier, receiving the Benchmark Award for its leadership, vision, hard work, management and business acumen.

“It’s about uplifting our people, investing in our people and pulling in our resources, and trying to get business from the automotive companies,” said Rapheal Johnson, operations manager, Piston Group.

The annual Summit featured sessions with industry leaders such as Marissa Hunter, vice president of marketing for Stellantis North America; Telva McGruder, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for General Motors; Quincy Stephens, head of diversity for Volkswagen of America; Alison Nelson, director of DEI strategies & governance for Ford Motor Company; and Tarshena Armstrong, director of diversity marketing & development for General Motors.

Attendees embraced the informative sessions and networking opportunities, including a message from the leader of Rainbow PUSH, Rev. Jesse Jackson. A day prior in Detroit, the community celebrated Rev. Jackson’s 80th birthday during a reception at Motor City Conference and Hotel Center.

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