In the African American culture barbershops have always been a space for men to get away and talk, and with that concept in mind Eastern Michigan University’s Brotherhood Scholars Community facilitated a space for free haircuts while Walter Douglas spoke and signed his book, “The Activist Entrepreneur,” Wednesday Oct. 19. Almost every two weeks The Brotherhood Scholars Community hosts an event on campus accompanied by free haircuts to provide a greater incentive to get students involved.
The Brotherhood is an organization geared towards facilitating a stronger sense of community for men of color on EMU’s campus. The Brotherhood invited Walter Douglas out to speak because of his experiences and advice he could lend to current students.
Walter Douglas moved to Detroit in 1967 at that time he had been working for the IRS. He worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst. Then in 1967, a year after his move to Detroit, the civil disturbance occurred, leading to 43 lives lost and over 250 million dollars in property damage.
“I think the people in the city of Detroit decided they were sick and tired of having few jobs, bad housing, bad health care, poor schools, and they just reacted to it,” said Douglas.
Following the civil disturbance he left his job with the IRS and began to volunteer and engage in dialogue with churches and other community organizations.
“I think what happened had to happen in order to wake people up and to get things moving in a way that there is more dialogue, and in a way that there is more opportunities created for people like me,” said Douglas.
As he continued community involvement he became an advocate for black-owned businesses and began partnering with other people to start businesses such as a school bus company. Then at 52-years-old he began training with Ford to become a dealership owner, and is currently the owner of Avis Ford, a car dealership in Southfield, Michigan.
“The value of what Walter Douglas is sharing with you today, is that quitting is not part of the program because we need all you guys to succeed,” said Bill Sharon, car dealership owner, and mentee of Walter Douglas.
In 2000 Douglas began putting together a book that spans most of his life. In 2013 the book was published, “The Activist Entrepreneur.” He brought complimentary copies for the audience members and signed them individually after he spoke. While speaking he encouraged the audience to step outside the box, and to challenge themselves to hold their course.