I’ve written about Christopher Nelson’s definitive book on Greenfield’s Patterson family but this morning, while surfing the net, I came across a reference to it. So, I decided to refresh everyone’s memory about this very special and unique place the Patterson’s hold in the history of American automobile manufacturer and in African-American History.
I read the book when it came out and I’ve told the Patterson story many times and I’ve always been amazed at how unfamiliar it is, especially among Blacks. In 2011 I was staying at the Westin Hotel in Cincinnati. At the time the Westin was hosting a convention of African-American historians. I met and talked to many of them in the lobby and coffee shop and not a single person had ever heard of the Pattersons.
During my Cincinnati stay I also visited the Underground Railroad Freedom Center and could not find Nelson’s book in their gift shop collection. I asked the manager of the shop and she had never heard of it. It troubled me that they were selling a variety of books about slavery and people who escaped it. But, they knew nothing about a former slave who became the world’s first and only Black manufacturer of Automobiles, trucks, and buses.
An Internet search did turn up more hits than I expected but a number of them simply reference the information I’ve made available over the years and what is published on the historical society’s website.
I didn’t intend for this to be several paragraphs of rambling, just wanted to encourage everyone to go to Amazon.com and buy, read, and spread the word about Chris Nelson’s book, The C.R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939. The world needs to know about the significance of this family.