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DRIVEN I and II - a spotlight on African American achievement in automotive

26 January 2012 Marc Bland
One year ago (Wednesday, January 12, 2011) the inaugural DRIVEN project was unveiled and I'm still impressed with the resulting coffee table worthy book. I remember receiving my invitation to submit my photo and bio that described DRIVEN as "a tribute to African American achievement in the automotive industry from its inception to today with a focus on Living Legends" - at which point I stopped reading.

Once I read the words "Living Legends" my mind immediately went to national automotive icons like Roy Roberts, Bill Brooks, Dave Bing, Mel Farr and Nathan Conyers. I quickly convinced myself that although I have a role in the automotive industry as a Diverse Market Leader at Polk, I still have a lot of points to put on the board before considering myself part of this very accomplished group. I found out later that the book highlighted contributions from high-performing African American automotive professionals across many levels.

Needless to say, the initial copy of DRIVEN with an introduction by highly acclaimed automotive writer, Warren Brown, and a foreword co-authored by mega supplier William Pickard and UAW leader Jimmy Settles, didn't include any mention of Marc Bland but the book has secured a prominent place in my office for the past year. Cedric the Entertainer was the celebrity host for the formal unveiling ceremony last year and in typical Cedric style, he made everyone laugh with very tasteful jokes and comments all about our beloved automotive industry. The initial DRIVEN event was more than a forum to unveil and receive a copy of the coveted book. Instead the event lived up to its billing as, "A tribute to African American achievement in the automotive industry." The evening provided excellent networking opportunities as many of the top African American automotive decision makers were all in one place at one time.

Those are my memories of DRIVEN from last year. On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, Hiram Jackson and Real Times Media unveiled DRIVEN II. The second edition of the DRIVEN series did not disappoint with an introduction penned by Felicia J. Fields (Ford Group Vice President of Human Resources), a foreword written by Delphi CEO, Rodney O'Neal. The 232 page text included a special section on DRIVEN WOMEN of which Alicia B. Davis (pictured above 4th from left) was one of four women featured on the cover of the special section along with Jenell R. Ross, Tia Norfleet, Flecia J. Fields and Jeanette Abraham.

The formal unveiling event at Cobo Hall was hosted by comedian Johnathan Slocum who had some funny moments, but there is a reason why Cedric the Entertainer is known as a "King of Comedy". On a personal note, not only was I highlighted in DRIVEN II, I was joined by six of my Polk colleagues. Plus, I was afforded an opportunity to pen a four-page article titled, "African Americans As Auto Consumers." The article went back to 1913 and shed light on the introduction and continuing evolution African Americans are experiencing within the automotive industry that includes, but is not limited to the role of automotive consumers. The article is based on Polk data along with other information sources.

The above are my thoughts on DRIVEN and DRIVEN II, I would love to hear your comments on the blog, DRIVEN volumes I or II or other forums that highlight African American achievements in the automotive industry.

Marc Bland, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Polk
Posted 26 January 2012

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