|Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.|
|A Page From Our American Story|
|At the dawn of the Automobile Age in the early 20th century, hundreds of small auto companies sprouted up across America as entrepreneurs recognized that society was transitioning from horse-drawn carriages to transportation powered by the internal combustion engine. Some of these early companies grew to become giants that are still with us today, such as Ford and Chevrolet. Many others remained small, struggling to compete against the assembly lines of the larger manufacturers.One such company was C.R. Patterson & Sons of Greenfield, Ohio, makers of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile from 1915 to 1918. Though its name is little recognized today, there is in fact a very importantreasontoensure that it is not lost to history: it was, and remains to this day,theonlyAfrican American owned and operated automobile company.
Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1833. Not much is known about his life on the plantation, and historians have to sift through conflicting reports about how he came to settle in Greenfield, Ohio, a town with strong abolitionist sympathies. Some say his family arrived in the 1840s, possibly after purchasing their freedom; others suggest Patterson alone escaped in 1861. In any case, he learned the skills of the blacksmith and found work in the carriage-making trade, where he developed a reputation for building a high quality product. In 1873, he formed a business partnership with another carriage maker in town, J.P. Lowe, who was white, and eventually became sole proprietor of the renamed C.R. Patterson & Sons in 1893. It was a successful business employing an integrated workforce of 35-50 by the turn of the century, and Charles Patterson became a prominent and respected citizen in Greenfield. His catalog listed some 28 models, from simple open buggies to larger and more expensive closed carriages for doctors and other professionals.
When Patterson died in 1910, the business passed to his son Frederick, who was already something of a pioneer. He was college-educated and was the first black athlete to play football for Ohio State University. He was also an early member and vice president of the National Negro Business League founded by Booker T. Washington. Now, as owner and operator of the enterprise his father started, Frederick Patterson began to see the handwriting on the wall: the days of carriages and horse-drawn buggies were nearing an end.
At first, the company offered repair and restoration services for the “horseless carriages” that were beginning to proliferate on the streets of Greenfield. No doubt this gave workers the opportunity to gain some hands-on knowledge about these noisy, smoky and often unreliable contraptions. Like his father, Frederick was a strong believer in advertising and placed his first ad for auto repair services in the local paper in 1913. Initially, the work mostly involved repainting bodies and reupholstering interiors, but as the shop gained more experience with engines and drivetrains, they began to offer sophisticated upgrades and improvements to electrical and mechanical systems as well.
This valuable experience allowed C.R. Patterson & Sons to take the next great step in its own story as well as in African American history: in 1915, it announced the availability of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile at a price of $685. From the company’s publicity efforts, it is evident they were bursting with pride:
“Our car is made with three distinct purposes in mind. First — It is not intended for a large car. It is designed to take the place originally held by the family surrey. It is a 5-passenger vehicle, ample and luxurious. Second — It is intended to meet the requirements of that class of users, who, though perfectly able to spend twice the amount, yet feel that a machine should not engross a disproportionate share of expenditure, and especially it should not do so to the exclusion of proper provisions for home and home comfort, and the travel of varied other pleasurable and beneficial entertainment. It is a sensibly priced car. Third — It is intended to carry with it (and it does so to perfection) every conceivable convenience and every luxury known to car manufacture. There is absolutely nothing shoddy about it. Nothing skimp and stingy.”
Orders began to come in, and C.R. Patterson & Sons officially entered the ranks of American auto manufacturers. Over the years, several models of coupes and sedans were offered, including a stylish “Red Devil” speedster. Ads featured the car’s 30hp Continental 4-cylinder engine, full floating rear axle, cantilever springs, electric starting and lighting, and a split windshield for ventilation. The build quality of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile was as highly regarded as it had been with their carriages.
The initial hope and optimism, however, proved to be fairly short-lived. In an age of increased mechanization and production lines, small independent shops featuring hand-built, high quality products weren’t able to scale up production or compete on price against the rapidly growing car companies out of Detroit. In small quantities, parts and supplies were expensive and hard to come by when major manufacturers were buying them by the trainload at greatly reduced costs. Plus, the labor hours per car were much higher than that of assembly line manufacturers. As a result, the profit margin on each Patterson-Greenfield was low.
In 1918, having built by some estimates between 30 and 150 vehicles, C.R. Patterson & Sons halted auto production and concentrated once again on the repair side of the business. But they weren’t done yet. In the 1920s, the company began building truck and bus bodies to be fitted on chassis made by other manufacturers. It was in a sense a return to their original skills in building carriage bodies without engines and drivetrains and, for a period of time, the company was quite profitable. Then in 1929, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression set in. As with many small businesses, sales dried up and loans were hard to obtain. The company, now run by the sons of Frederick Patterson, soldiered on until 1939 when, after 74 years, C.R. Patterson & Sons closed its doors forever.
Sadly, no Patterson-Greenfield automobiles are known to survive today. But we should not let that dim the fact that two great entrepreneurs, Charles Richard Patterson and his son Frederick Patterson built and sustained a business that lasted several generations and earned a place not just in African American history, but in automotive history as well.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution’s family of extraordinary museums. The museum will be far more than a collection of objects. The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.
Milan (AFP) – It has been called fashion’s dirty little secret but according to Miuccia Prada, soon everybody will be doing it.
Made-in-China’s just fine with Prada’s supremo and a host of other influential industry figures.
But for Chinese companies and designers seeking to become global style players, producing high-end clothing on home soil is complicated.
Trade barriers, brand perception issues and the sourcing of certain fabrics combine to form an obstacle to them competing internationally with an exclusively homegrown product.
Uma Wang, China’s best-known international designer, says the nature of her business dictates a 40 percent made-in-China, 60 percent made-in-Italy production model.
The creative work including production of samples is mostly done at Wang’s headquarters in Shanghai. But she spends half the year in Milan overseeing production and dealing with suppliers.
For Wang, whose sales are mostly outside China, import/export taxes are the key issue.
“An item produced in China, by the time it is sent to the shops, it adds an extra 30 percent to the price,” Wang told AFP.
The add-on costs are even greater if high-tech fabrics, an area in which Italy is acknowledged as having an edge, have to be imported and subjected to China’s textile tariffs.
So for Wang, with 58 shops around the world but only six in China, sticking with Italy makes sense.
Even if the trade barriers were to be swept away, she could not easily move production closer to home.
“The quality, for making the clothes, the basic sewing, is no problem in China,” she says.
“But for the fabric it is 100 percent from Italy. For the material I have to say that China is not yet at the level.
“And now I’m really used to the switch — two time zones, two cultures, the two foods! It’s amazing.”
Zhu Chongyun, another Chinese female fashion entrepreneur, has just begun to share Wang’s two-continent lifestyle following her acquisition of venerable Italian house Krizia earlier this year.
Shenzhen-based Zhu said she would retain Krizia’s Italian identity.
“We don’t want to mislead the public into thinking that because (Krizia) is now Chinese-owned it is going to have more of an Asian culture — that is not what I want,” Zhu told AFP.
- The Pepsi challenge -
Seven years ago, Alfred Chan, the Canadian owner of Hong Kong-listed group Ports Design Ltd, declared that the world’s biggest fashion houses should “take the Pepsi challenge” and try Chinese manufacturing.
Armani (for its diffusion ranges), Burberry and Prada, among others, did and found they liked the taste.
Miuccia Prada told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 that: “Sooner or later everybody will be doing it because (Chinese manufacturing) is so good.”
Exactly what proportion of top menswear, womenswear and accessories are produced in China is difficult to measure because of the complex and variable ways in which such things are assessed.
It’s clear, however, that powerful industry trends are driving more production China’s way.
The post-2007 fallout from the global financial crisis hammered a sector dominated by profit-driven conglomerates that covet cost-savings.
The downturn has also made China’s new rich more important as consumers of luxury products. By one estimate, the combined purchases of shoppers in China and the tourists it sends abroad will account for 50 percent of the sector’s worldwide turnover by next year.
All of which makes it noteworthy that one of the companies declining Chan’s Pepsi challenge is his own designer subsidiary, Ports 1961.
Originally a Canadian brand, Ports 1961 moved its HQ from New York to Milan two and a half years ago and is in the process of making itself as Italian as a thimble-sized espresso.
“For us it is an issue about positioning,” says Salem Cibani, the company’s youthful CEO.
“Our commercial line (Ports International) is luxurious and very well-made with some expensive fabrics. But when we are producing in Italy, there are certain artisanal things that we are doing at a very high-level designer way that are not necessarily very doable in China.
“Also the best materials are coming from Italy. To move them all the way to China and back is also an exercise that takes time and adds cost.
“Yes Italy is more expensive, but for what you get, the value is still there.”
That view is endorsed by Italian cashmere magnate Brunello Cucinelli, a titan of the “absolute luxury” sector which he sees staying in old Europe.
“The French have been making champagne for 500 years and it is very, very special,” he says. “When I hear people saying there are other ‘champagnes’ that are the same, it’s just not true.
“My grandfather and grandmother were simple farmers but already they were making clothes. It is part of our culture. In these things, it takes centuries to arrive at a certain level.”
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Resource: his website
I don’t know very much about Pat Roberts but his stance on “family values” struck me … and not in a good way.
Democrat finds a way to knock both the GOP and Obamacare in less than 30 seconds
http://wapo.st/1utPsa7 via @washingtonpost
So, given the new information re: Gallego statements about Obamacare aka ACA it is very important to read what Pete Gallego is for versus what the republican candidate will do say and vote for on floor of Congress … It is a given, that those running in (redstates) and are from the Democratic Party the issues they support may or may not push back at what the admin does, but having read the wapo story there are things to consider… It’s from wapo and folks in TX may already know that Pete just may be a blue dog and will need to answer to some things that will impact those who need healthcare now and in the future ~~ Nativegirl77
Gallego faces Republican Will Hurd, a former CIA operative, whoever wins will represent the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, a sprawling region that stretches from San Antonio’s western suburbs to the eastern outskirts of El Paso and includes the longest stretch of U.S.-Mexico border in any district. So, for those interested and support immigration would be doing them and their children will be best suited to vote for Gellego and inform him about how good ACA would be for your state as well.
Medicare is one of the most important programs to seniors. More than 3 million Texans rely on Medicare for their health care. Medicare needs to be reformed and strengthened for future generations. But, we cannot make cuts to Medicare benefits that seniors have earned through a lifetime of work. I’ll protect Medicare, and fight efforts by extremists to end it or turn it into a voucher program. Our parents and grandparents should not be given vouchers and forced to negotiate with the insurance industry on their own. To strengthen the solvency of Medicare, I would support allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which would save the program $24 billion annually.
Our country is made up of immigrants who made the journey to the United States in search of the American dream. But we all know that our immigration system is broken. Making sure that our borders are secure is the most important aspect of immigration policy. Reform includes border security and putting the necessary boots on the ground to protect us from those who want to do our country harm. Reform also should include an earned path to legalization for people who stay out of trouble, pay a penalty, pay back taxes, learn English and stand in line. We need to create an immigration system that makes America safer, that is realistic, and that makes economic sense.
I also support the DREAM Act which would let young people who were brought to this country as children, graduated from high school and stayed out of trouble, earn a path to citizenship through military service or by going to college. I was proud to vote for the Texas DREAM Act, and I look forward to voting for the federal DREAM Act in Congress.
Since extremists in Congress obstructed the passage of the DREAM Act, I support the deferred action policy that offers DREAM Act eligible youth, on a case-by-case basis, relief from deportation.
Social Security is a lifeline for many, and it allows our seniors to retire with dignity. Half of America`s seniors would fall below the poverty line without their Social Security checks. I pledge to protect our seniors by protecting the Social Security benefits that they have earned, now and in the future. I would oppose efforts to raise the retirement age, to slash benefits, or to privatize it. We must strengthen Social Security and make it easier for Americans to save for their retirement through automatic enrollment in retirement programs at their workplaces. Seniors shouldn`t be asked to sacrifice their health after they worked hard and paid into the system their entire lives. That`s way too high a price for people who have built our nation and paid their dues.
The oil and gas industry in Congressional District 23 is a big reason that the U.S. is now a net exporter of crude oil for the first time since the1950s. Making the most of our domestic fossil fuel resources not only creates jobs we sorely need but also moves us toward energy independence from unstable regions. And while we must do the most with the resources we’ve been given, we must also be good stewards of our future and develop green energy to grow the energy-sector jobs of tomorrow. My son’s grandchildren might not have an oil and gas industry to support their economy, and it’s our responsibility develop the energy sources of the future today.
My father was a World War II Veteran. His service helped him go to college, open a small business, and propel our family to the middle class. Lots of folks in our district work as civilians, serve as active duty, or have a family member who does one those things at Laughlin Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, Brooke Army Medical Center and Fort Bliss. We owe a great debt to the men and women who defend and have defended our country. I strongly support local military families and veterans and will work to increase funding for wounded veterans coming home and provide programs so these men and women can find jobs once they get here.
Resource: his website petegallego.com