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At Tenneco, we are committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment because we know this leads to a more innovative and connected workplace.  February is Black History Month in the United States, and we are proud to acknowledge and salute the contributions African Americans have made to history, culture, business, and, in particular, the automotive industry.

Everyone knows about the creation of the Model T by Henry Ford, but did you know that during the same timeframe, C.R. Patterson & Sons in Ohio was also making automobiles?  To this day, it remains the only African American-owned and operated automobile company, producing several different models of coupes and sedans during its peak output in the early 20th Century.      

Post-World War II saw increased migration of African Americans from the South to work in Detroit’s automobile factories, eventually representing 15 percent of their total workforce by 1945 - and serving as a huge part of their collective manufacturing success.  Closer to home, DRiV’s Champion® brand sponsored auto-racing pioneer Leonard Miller, a member of the Black Athletes Hall of Fame, founder of the Black American Racers Association, and co-founder of Vanguard Racing—the first African American-owned team to enter a car in the Indianapolis 500.   

“It’s important for us to take time this month to learn about the many African American pioneers who have helped shape our country and our industry,” said Tenneco CEO Brian Kesseler.  “I believe that a diverse workplace makes Tenneco a stronger company—and a better place to work. I welcome and appreciate the contributions that African American employees have made here and in the automotive sector.”

Black History Month was extended to a full month and officially established in 1976 by U.S. President Gerald R. Ford.  To learn more, visit the Black History Month website or The National Museum of African American History and Culture for more information on significant milestones and contributions from trailblazers and leaders in African American history.