Auto Hall of Fame to induct Black industry leaders who broke barriers

Detroit — C.R. Patterson, Frederick Patterson and Charlie Wiggins were early automotive entrepreneurs, innovators and champions who made a profound impact on the industry, even as they had to break down racial barriers to do so.

On Thursday, they will be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors from an industry that, during their lifetimes, largely shunned their contributions because they were Black.

The event, scheduled for 6 p.m. at The Icon, on Walker Street, also will honor inductees and awardees from the Dearborn-based Hall of Fame’s 2020 class. Last year’s ceremony was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. With capacity restrictions lifted, the ceremony is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from around the world.

The 2020/2021 class represents the Hall of Fame’s most diverse ever in terms of geographic, gender, racial and industry representation, officials say. That milestone follows an intentional effort in recent years to improve on diversity and inclusion, both in the induction process and in the organization’s educational programs.