The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Walter Douglas

Share on Social Media

Information about Walter Douglas

Profile image of Walter Douglas

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Auto Sales Entrepreneur
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bonita Springs, Florida
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/22/1933
Birth Location:
Hamlet, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Auto Sales Entrepreneur
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bonita Springs, Florida
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/22/1933
Birth Location:
Hamlet
See how Walter Douglas is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Businessman and Detroit civic pioneer Walter Edmond Douglas, Sr. was born in North Carolina, and raised in the town of Hamlet, a major railroad community. His parents were educators. Douglas holds two degree from North Carolina Central University. He earned his B.A. degree in accounting in 1954. A year later, Douglas earned his M.B.A. from North Carolina Central University. Upon graduation, he briefly taught at Edward Waters Junior College in Jacksonville Florida, before being drafted into the U.S. Army. In 1965, Douglas was hired by the Internal Revenue Service. An assignment transfer brought him to Detroit in 1966.

Douglas was deeply moved by the July 1967 riots in Detroit, which was the worst in American history at the time. He began volunteering around the city, and his efforts were noticed by city leaders. In 1972, he became the vice-president of New Detroit Inc, a nonprofit founded in 1967 to deal with the city’s racial and employment tensions. Douglas became a key advisor of Coleman Young, the city’s first African American mayor, following Young’s election in 1974. Young appointed Douglas to several positions, notably, the city’s new civilian police commission. In 1978, Douglas was named president of New Detroit. He remained in that position, until he decided to test the private sector.

The year was 1985 when entered into a car dealer ownership a minority training program hosted by the Ford Motor company. The purpose of the program was to give more African American a chance to own dealerships. In 1986, Douglas purchased a share in Avis Ford in suburban Detroit, a historic dealership owned by the founder of the Avis Rent-a-Car System. Douglas became majority owner in 1992. Since then, he has earned a host of awards for the success of his dealership, and his continued work within the Detroit community as a philanthropist. In 2006, he turned over the business operation to his son, Mark. He lives in suburban Detroit with his wife of more than forty years, Retha.

See how Walter Douglas is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter Douglas' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas talks about his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas remembers his paternal grandfather's farm
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas talks about his paternal aunts and uncles
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas describes his parents' early relationship
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Walter Douglas remembers his mother's teaching career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter Douglas describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Walter Douglas describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Walter Douglas remembers his neighborhood in Hamlet, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Walter Douglas describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas recalls the famous visitors to Hamlet, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas remembers the Negro League baseball games
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas recalls his early travels
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas remembers the Hamlet Street School and Pine Street Elementary School in Hamlet, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas recalls the Capital Highway High School in Hamlet, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas recalls his high school activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas describes his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Walter Douglas remembers his early aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas describes his decision to attend the North Carolina College at Durham
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas talks about his relationship with his brother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas describes the North Carolina College at Durham
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas remembers his social activities at the North Carolina College at Durham
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas describes his early career as a business professor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas talks about his experiences in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas describes his introduction to the business world
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas recalls applying for a position at the Internal Revenue Service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas describes the start of his career in data processing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas remembers UNIVAC computers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas recalls the founding of the Internal Revenue Service data center in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas remembers moving to Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas remembers his involvement with the First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas remembers the Detroit riots of 1967, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas remembers the Detroit riots of 1967, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas recalls the police shootout at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Walter Douglas recalls the police shootout at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas describes the founding of New Detroit
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas talks about his role at New Detroit
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas recalls the start of the campaign to elect Detroit Mayor Coleman Young
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas remembers the election of Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas remembers the election of Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas describes Mayor Coleman Young's political appointments, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas describes Mayor Coleman Young's political appointments, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas talks about police reform under Detroit Mayor Coleman Young
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Walter Douglas recalls the effects of busing in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Walter Douglas remembers the housing crises in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas talks about the problem of land use in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas remembers the critics of Detroit Mayoe Coleman Young
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas recalls Detroit Mayor Coleman Young's economic development projects
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas remembers the influence of New Detroit
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas recalls joining the Ford Minority Dealers Association, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas recalls joining the Ford Minority Dealers Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas recalls buying his first Ford Motor Company dealership
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Walter Douglas describes his working relationship with Warren Avis
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas recalls becoming the sole owner of Avis Ford Inc. in Southfield, Michigan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas talks about his early challenges as a car dealer
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas remembers his automotive sales strategies
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas recalls the hiring of CEO Alan Mulally at the Ford Motor Company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas describes the culture of the Ford Motor Company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Walter Douglas talks about the demographics of his car dealership's clientele
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Walter Douglas reflects upon his life, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Walter Douglas reflects upon his life, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Walter Douglas describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Walter Douglas reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Walter Douglas talks about his family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Walter Douglas describes how he would like to be remembered