Brandon Hardison, Ellis Automotive Group’s Director of Sales Training, embarked on a tour of local schools recently for Black History Month.
The former educator takes the month of February as an opportunity to go to a school near each of Jim Ellis’s oldest locations and give presentations regarding notable, African-American figures.
“The education that I do for this month, Black History Month, I talk about people they’ve never heard of,” explained Hardison.
He gave a couple examples of the types of people he covers during these speaking tours.
“Most people have heard about Rosa Parks in some way. But, I explained to them ‘what if I told you the same thing happened a hundred years ago? An Elizabeth Jennings did the same, exact thing,’” revealed Hardison.
He incorporated three more stories into the one of her own. He spoke of her father, Thomas L. Jennings, the first African-American patent receiver, Frederick Douglas in relation to his newspaper, and the 21st president of the United States, Chester Arthur. All of which played some role in the legalities she took for her revolutionary act of defiance.
Hardison also took The Super Bowl as an opportunity to talk about the first African-American who played for the NFL. He was sure to include the tidbit that this gentleman was both the coach of the team and a player himself. “Most people have never heard of him,” assured Hardison. “I told that story today, and the teacher had said: ‘I never knew that’.”
“That’s why I try to find stories that people never know about because you won’t find it in the history books,” he went on to say.
Giving a breakdown of how he goes about his presentations, Hardison explained: “We let them know at the beginning who we are, and how long we've been in business. We’re the largest automotive group, and we’re still growing.”
“[Then,] the students read a paragraph, and I find someone in the audience to summarize in their own words what he or she just said. It gives me an idea to see if critical thinking is still going on in high schools,” he explained.
“Our very first promise that our founder, who started in ‘71, was to treat our guests and community like family,” said Hardison. So, as a takeaway from the discussion, students were supposed to walk away with a few more names of significance and a reinforced idea of what it takes to be successful after graduating.
“I’m glad that The Jim Ellis Automotive Group has allowed me to go out and do this for the past seven years,” concluded Hardison. “Especially when you hear the educator, the administration, or even the principal say ‘Wow, I never knew that’.”
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