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Thomas Moorehead, First Black Rolls Royce Dealer, Rolls into the World of Ultra-Luxury

Thomas A. Moorehead
By Eric Easter, Urban News Service

The world’s first African-American Rolls Royce car dealer got there through hard work and perseverance, but only after disappointing his family. Thomas Moorehead’s parents thought the key to respectability was a Ph.D. Both teachers, they lived by an old-school axiom that the one thing you never can take away from a man is an education. Yet, with just a few credits and a dissertation to go, Moorehead abandoned his doctoral program, and his parent’s wishes, for an uncertain shot at learning the automobile business from the bottom up.

It was a leap of faith, an offer from a fraternity brother and mentor, James Bradley of Bradley Automotive Group, who promised to make Moorehead a millionaire in five years — if he took the risk. But it wasn’t the promise that attracted Moorehead: “Teaching was a guarantee of a long career, but I always had a passion for business,” he says.

His road to success required two years of apprenticeship with Bradley, the mortgaging of his home and the depletion of his savings to enter a training program, then eventually owning his first dealership, selling Buicks in Omaha, Neb. Moorehead built a strong reputation as someone dedicated to customer service, an essential value of the Rolls Royce brand. That reputation, and his sales record as owner of Sterling BMW in Virginia, sparked an invitation from Rolls Royce Motor Cars to join the exclusive club of only 33 dealers and 130 dealerships around the globe, an opportunity he accepted without hesitation. The new store, Rolls Royce Motor Cars of Sterling, is the sole Rolls Royce dealership in greater Washington, D.C. and covers much of the mid-Atlantic — from Virginia to southern Pennsylvania. It sits just across from Sterling BMW and Mini, his other successful dealership, a fact that fills him with immense pride.

“These are the best cars in the world, and I’m honored to be able to bring them to my customers,” Moorehead says as he looks across the lot.

His dealerships thrive in one of the region’s wealthiest communities, filled with prosperous government contractors, newly minted millionaires from tech start-ups and the Washington Redskins’ nearby training facility. But the opulence that Moorehead markets is a long way from his roots in Monroe, Louisiana, a town of 38,000 with a historic poverty rate twice the already poor state’s average.

During his youth, Monroe Colored High was the sole choice for black students in that segregated city. It was a time when, according to Moorehead, families like his could “offer you their good name, but not money.” That upbringing drives a sense of humility that led Moorehead to keep his own name off the dealership’s logo. “I always say the boss is the customer, not me. I don’t get caught up in having my name on the door,” he explains. “Actually, most customers who come in think I’m just another salesman, and that’s fine with me.”

In a world where demanding buyers have been known to add millions of dollars’ worth of custom details to their cars to reflect their personalities (fur-lined shoe-holders, built-in picnic baskets, crystal cufflink holders), Moorehead’s low-key manner is a studied contrast – a contrast he believes helps him sell more cars. “I can talk about the features of the cars all day but, ultimately, people are buying good service.”

At age 71, Moorehead still relies on the daily advice of mentors, who include Hall of Fame home-run great (now car dealer) Hank Aaron and former National Urban League president John Jacob. He calls them “instrumental” in shaping his business’s success. “They marked their careers by quietly getting the job done, but also being the best at what they do.”

While giving a tour of his office, Moorehead seems slightly embarrassed as he points to pictures of himself with presidents Obama and Clinton and an array of famous business leaders. That changes when he points out two items of which he’s most proud. The Laurel Wreath Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s highest honor for lifetime achievement. And then something much less distinct: a small cardboard sign that lists more than a dozen vendors who, he says, have contributed to his achievements — architects, decorators, contractors, cleaning-service owners and even the guy who printed the sign. All are African-Americans, and fraternity brothers, people for whom he has paid forward the gift that Bradley gave him.

“This is really what it’s all about, bringing other people up and giving something back.”

Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) Hosts “Meet & Greet” for Inland Empire Black Male Leaders in Education

image3SAN BERNARDINO, CA- On Thursday, January 21, the Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) hosted a “Meet & Greet” to introduce the Inland Empire community to some influential leaders in education. IEABSE invited in the Inland Empire community to meet five prominent African American Male Administrators you may or may not have known existed.

San Bernardino City Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Kennon Mitchell, Ph.D., Chaffey College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Eric Bishop Ed.D., Moreno Valley City College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Dyrell Foster, Ed.D., San Bernardino Valley College Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Ricky Shabazz, Ed.D., and California State University San Bernardino Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Bryan Hanes, Ed.D all came together to discuss “What it means to be an African American Male in Education, What is being done to support Student Equity, and what can be done to support them in closing the Achievement Gap.” image2

The event located at Azusa Pacific University San Bernardino Campus was attended by over 75 school or college educators and community members. All were greeted by the low hum of instrumental hip hop, the smell of fresh baked “Grand Daddy” macaroni and cheese, Guest Panel and thoughtful conversations surrounding Black Student Achievement. Meriel Anderson-McDade of Riverside Community College remarked, “The energy in here gave me goose bumps, it’s not often we can ask questions of those in such high positions, let alone mingle with so many other educators and parents that are both passionate and positive about helping our youth.”

Keynasia Buffong and Alise Clouser of IEABSE said, “We wanted our communities to know that there are Black male educators in high positions, they are not unicorns, they do exist… we want to show our support while keeping them accountable.” The next IEABSE meeting is scheduled for April. At that meeting influential Black female educators and information regarding the 6th Annual IEABSE High School Black Graduate Recognition & Scholarship Ceremony” will be presented.

IEABSE annually hosts the largest High School Black Graduate Recognition Ceremony in Southern California. The “IE HS Black Grad” will be held this year on May 14th at 2pm on the CSU San Bernardino campus. For more information please contact IEABSE directly at ieabse@gmail.com.

 

School Superintendent Shares Dinner with Dads

dinner with dad

Dinner with Dads

VICTORVILLE, CA- What happens at the dinner table stays in the hearts and minds of children. At least that is the message a group of fatherhood, community and education advocates throughout the Victorville valley are working hard to get out.

“Dinner With Dad” is a community outreach event hosted by hip hop recording artist, television personality (Men of Faith In Action) and Victorville resident, “Justified,” focused on bringing fellowship and resources to fathers wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of their children.

Dr. Ronald Williams, Victor Valley Union High School District, was a featured guest at the February 4 “Dinner with Dad” event. He shared the importance of both fatherhood and parent engagement in a child’s education.  As well as, how fathers can impact and create key networks for children and communities they live in.

Street Positive CEO, Terry Boykins, is an organizer and sponsor of Dinner with Dads.  He commented, “Years ago myself and other fatherhood advocates, namely Marcelino “Mars” Serna, discussed the importance of connecting fathers and student academic achievement, as well as, positive community modeling throughout San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire in general. Seeing these young fathers taking a proactive position to make a positive difference is very exciting.”

In addition to education and community, Dinner with Dad also featured speakers and resources on mental health, financial planning, travel, communications, safety, fitness, employment and other topics of interest to help fathers succeed in parenting.

For more information on Dinner with Dad call (442) 284.3733, or visit www.streetpositive.com.