As Auto Trends with JeffCars.com continues our Black History Month themed shows, focusing on the intersection of race and sports, we are honored to share the story of how Hammerin’ Henry Louis Aaron became BMW’s first black dealer.
When Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record on April 8, 1974, hitting the career-winning 715-home run, one might have assumed that he would no longer be facing opposition and still need to prove himself nearly a quarter of a century later.
However, the world-class athlete and successful businessman was about to embark upon a brand-new venture, where he would find himself again in the hairs of the crossfire.
Aaron, the barrier breaker, whom many thought would have been enjoying retirement, was about to thread rough roads again. This time, however, instead of facing fans who despised him, during his baseball days, the first time auto dealer would encounter brushback from some within the black dealer community and white businessmen.
When many learned that the baseball icon, who was in his mid-sixties, was being awarded a BMW dealership, it sent shock waves through the business community. Many could not understand why someone without dealership experience was being awarded a premium store – especially the black dealers – who had yearned for years to break through the dealership ceiling, acquiring a luxury import store.
In fact, it was reported that the late Sheila Vaden-Williams, who was the executive director of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), was surprised that the baseball icon was on BMW’s radar, being that the organization that she led typically served as the point person for all of the carmakers, supplying them with viable candidates for available dealership opportunities.
While many of the black dealers, had already had access to the keys to own such American luxury makes, as Cadillac and Lincoln, the dealers, just like consumers, yearned to have the keys to unlock the luxury imports doors, which was the pinnacle of success, especially a German new car franchise.
With the exception of Mercedes-Benz, which had approved Bob Ross, as their first and only black dealer in the late seventies, no other black business dealer had been granted access to the class of car buyers, who could afford to buy such vehicles, which in turn would mean more money added to the dealers’ bottom line.
Ironically, at the same BMW was making history, the new luxury car brands from Infiniti and Lexus were also making groundbreaking appointments, too, with their first round of black dealers.
Conversely, unlike both BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the Japanese luxury brands were still relatively new. And unlike BMW and with their first appointment, the Japanese brands selected automobile dealers with an established track record. Both Infiniti and Lexus had only been around for about ten years.
Join us as Sidney Barron, a long-time business partner and a close friend of Aaron’s, as he talks one-on-one with Auto Trends with JeffCars.com. Barron, who was Aaron’s first general manager, when the BMW store broke ground, currently serves as the only black general manager for the ultra-luxury Bentley brand.
According to Barron, Hank Aaron is an extremely astute and successful businessman from his days when he retired from baseball when he acquired Arby’s franchises in Milwaukee to when he moved back to Atlanta buying Popeyes, Church’s Chicken and Krispy Kreme franchises. Barron says, “his biggest skill is looking at the way he played baseball he always assembled a team around him that helped him succeed in whatever he did.”
In a wide-ranging conversation Barron discusses everything from how the baseball icon made BMW’s shortlist to how the appointment of the German luxury automaker black dealers had strong ties to South Africa’s apartheid to how they won the respect of the dealer community to why Aaron finally dissolved his portfolio of automotive franchises, which also included Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Mini, Jaguar and Land Rover, after only a short, but highly successful seven-year stint as a dealer.
Furthermore, Barron also shares how the area in which Hank Aaron BMW was located became known as ‘black auto dealer row’ in the United States.
To Tune In:
To hear the conversation, tune in to Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, on Friday, February 29 at 12:00 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Channel 141. Encore broadcasts can be heard on Sunday, March 1 and Monday, March 2 at 12:00 p.m. ET and 1:30 p.m. ET, respectively.
To hear the show for free, listen at 12 PM ET Saturdays on Pine Bluff, Arkansas’ 89.7 FM. The show is available online, accessing hot897pb.com.
The show airs at 1:00 PM ET Sundays on Tallahassee, Florida’s 90.5 FM.
To find out about additional shows, visit JeffCars.com.
Pastor Cal Keeps Love Alive on ‘Married at First Sight’ (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*For 11 seasons, “Married at First Sight” (MAFS) has been the ultimate experiment in matchmaking as couples who have never met – complete strangers – tie the knot.
If you are not familiar with the popular Lifetime series, people looking for love are matched by relationship experts (Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Viviana Coles, and Pastor Calvin Roberson-known as Pastor Cal) and agree to tie the knot before meeting their mates.
The show follows the couples for a few weeks as they experience their first meeting at their weddings, their honeymoons, meeting each other’s families, and other milestone events all the while being counseled by the experts. At the end of each season, the couples are given the chance to continue in their marriage or get a divorce.
While some may question the show’s premise, the EUR spoke to Pastor Cal recently and he said the series is genuine.
“My job on the show is to get these couples, put them together, and make sure they stay together,” said Pastor Cal. “My goal is to look at their differences, see where they’re compatible, counsel them and in some cases, threaten them, to make it work. All the experts, our focus, is simply making sure the couples stay together.”
As for a method in which the couples are matched, he added, “There isn’t a solid formula we apply to every couple. It has to be tweaked as we find out people’s peculiarities. It can be nerve-wracking but it’s rewarding in the end.”
Like many MAFS seasons, there are surprising revelations and this one, featuring couples from New Orleans, is no exception.
“Season 11 has brought us so many surprises,” Pastor Cal said. “Even in casting, one of the couples we thought would get along much quicker is one of the ones lagging behind. And one couple we thought would move slower to intimacy are moving ahead. And that’s with Miles and Karen being the slower and Woody and Amani being the faster of the two.”
He continued, “Also, by my own admission, I fall on the sword on this one, I was not expecting Bennett and Amelia to get along so well. I thought she would be put off more by his lack of profession. It was a big surprise to me.”
The next MAFS season will include Atlanta couples and after that the show heads to Houston, which is casting now. Pastor Cal told the EUR that the show adapts to the couples from each city.
“I believe that every city we film in brings a certain flavor and the participants from that city take on the flavor from that city,” Pastor Cal said. “New Orleans is laid-back, they party, and it’s a very fun city as opposed to a city like D.C. that is very political, buttoned up, and tight. But definitely we found that every city influences the participants. We definitely see different personalities coming out of each city.”
Speaking of Atlanta, Pastor Cal is the lead pastor at Progression church in the peach city. He and his wife Wendy have a marriage coaching organization that offers marriage and relationship conferences, boot camps, and seminars worldwide.
While COVID-19 may have slowed down the in-person events, that has not stopped people from contacting Pastor Cal for love connections, “Because of COVID, we’re online. I get more people through DM’s, email, etc. asking me to match them.”
And how does the church feel about the show?
“My church actually loves it.” Pastor Cal said. “They are so supportive and such an incredible group of people. They tell people about the show. Our church was actually founded on relationships, so it was an easy fit. Our church was founded on positive marriage and positive family.”
Look out for Pastor Cal’s book, “Marriage Ain’t for Punks,” slated to come out next year.
If you are interested in being on “Married at First Sight” and live in Houston, click here to apply.
For more information on MAFS’ current season, click here.
Nigerian Bread Seller Lands Modeling Contract After Photobombing Rapper’s Shoot
She was discovered on the streets of the city of Lagos by international photographer Ty Bello, who was shooting with English rapper Tinie Tempah. Unintentionally, Orisaguna came out in one of the images.
Days later, Bello shared pictures from that shoot on his social media but with interest of finding out who the bread seller was in the photo.
“WHO IS SHE? Everyone has been asking if this lady is a model… She definitely SHOULD be a model… I’ll find a way to track her down somehow. You guys can also help,“ the photographer captioned the post.
BEATIFULX : WHO IS SHE.Every one has been asking if this lady is a model .. It was just perfect coincidence … She just happened to be walking by while I photographed . It happened so fast .She definitely SHOULD be a model. .. I’m happy to help her build a portfolio if she’s interested .She’s so beautiful and photographed so well. I’ll find a way to track her down somehow . You guys can also help #lagos #doesanyonerecognizeher #okunorentwins #tinietempah @thisdaystyle #lagos #phaseone
As PEOPLE notes, from that moment on, her life changed forever. In less than a year, Orisaguna managed to sign contracts with recognized agencies. Earlier this year, she wrapped up her tour of South Africa and she also launched a vlog and reality show.
“I never expected this would ever happen to me,” she told CNN. “My friends have told me they saw me on the TV and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success.”
In March, she celebrated the one year anniversary of her discovery. In an exclusive interview with Pulse in January, Orisaguna spoke about the people who have been influential in her rise to fame. During the interview, she thanked Azuka Ogujuiba of ThisDay Newspaper, as she was instrumental in Olajumoke’s success story.
Orisaguna, who left her two children and husband to sell bread, is now being offered by a bank to pay for her kid’s education through college.
‘Origin of Everything’ on PBS Sparks Interest with Controversial & Everyday Topics (EUR Exclusive!)
*“Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org, has been exploring topics since 2017 that run the gamut. The show jumps into a variety of subjects by investigating daily life like the words we use, pop culture, and why we are hooked on technology.
The show does not shy away from controversial topics such as slavery, race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration of African Americans.
Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., the host and lead writer of “Origin of Everything,” told the EUR in a recent interview that the series is about making people think beyond the restrictive ways we have been taught to view history.
“It’s a show about our collective story and how we are envisioning history,” Dr. Bainbridge said. ”How do we think about history that includes all of us and just not the figures and facts that we were taught in school. So, it’s a show about under told and underrepresented history. We’re trying to make history feel very present to the people who watch it.”
She continued, “One of the reasons to watch it is if you’re curious about how did we get to our current moment? How do small things such as why do we eat popcorn at the movies or what is the origin of ethnicity and how do these things still impact the way we think about the world?”
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Deftly equipped to talk about controversial topics, Dr. Bainbridge holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies
In early 2017, when she was a graduate student, she was contacted by PBS about working on the show and thought it was a joke.
“When they first reached out to me, I thought it was a hoax,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I was thinking how would they even know who I am because I was a graduate student? But I think they found me through a since defunct janky website that I had set up. They reached out to me, I auditioned, did a screen test, and a writing sample and after that I was hired to help develop the show.”
Viewers are encouraged to be interactive with the series because it is digital. With instant commentary from the audience, the show knows immediately what viewers think, which for the most part is positive. However, when it delves into controversial subject matters things can get sticky.
“I would say overall people are pretty positive about the series because most of the folks who watch it are longtime watchers who tune in every week for episodes,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “The only exception is if we cover more sensitive topics like, race, gender, or sexuality we will get some pushback. I think that’s just the cost of doing business with open discourse.”
One of the most controversial shows was about the transatlantic slave trade.
“We did one episode on why Europeans enslaved Africans and that was probably our most viewed episode as well as our most critiqued one,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I think often times if you view yourself as pretty well versed in history from what you learn in school and then you learn something that goes in the opposite direction it can be jarring or for some people upsetting. We think of it as our value or service to our audience to present accurate history or history that doesn’t get told that often so that people can be informed with the whole picture.”
She added that she has an answer for those who point out that Africans sold slaves to Europeans.
“Slavery was not invented with West Africans and Europeans,” Dr. Bainbridge continued. “Some form of enslavement – whether through war, becoming a prisoner of war, or through different systems – goes back to ancient societies from around the world. So, it is not distinct to West Africa or Europe or any other region of the world.”
Dr. Bainbridge added, “But the difference with this particular moment in slavery was that it intersected with capitalism in a way that was very different with slavery that preceded it. People were taken into the system and their children inherited their status as a slave and that is where the differences started to emerge. We have to think about these things as distinct only because the system that existed with chattel slavery was so radically different than the slavery that existed around the world beforehand.”
With the ongoing protests against police brutality, “Origin of Everything” has also tackled the racist beginnings of United States law. Dr. Bainbridge breaks down the discriminatory history by looking at colonialism, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and mass incarceration.
“I decided to write this episode about legal discrimination, and I didn’t have a particular agenda in mind,” she said. “As I started doing the research it was overwhelming. I started to find (material) that just dealt with legal discrimination about black people in this country from its origin to now. I thought it was something that people needed to know.”
“I was never taught in any history class that I took through high school any of the information from that episode. I was taught that things are fair and that a lot of the blame was placed inadvertently or inherently on black communities, impoverished communities, or communities that struggle. When I saw that in some ways the law was stacked against black people and certain other populations, I thought that was important to bring to light. In this moment, people are looking for reliable sources and this could add to the conversation.”
New episodes of “Origin of Everything” are available on PBS.org and the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube Channel. Join the conversation by visiting Twitter-@PBSOrigin and Instagram-@pbsoriginofeverything.
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