Summary of The Activist Entrepreneur

In 1967 Walt Douglas was an ambitious IRS computer programmer, transplanted from Washington, D.C., and settling into a new home in Detroit with his wife Retha and young family.  That’s when the worst urban riot of the 1960s broke out a few miles from their quiet neighborhood, forever changing their lives and altering the shape of the city’s economy, politics and social relations.  The 1967 Rebellion (as some scholars and many Detroit residents still call the disturbance) turned Douglas into a passionate Detroiter and a tireless activist for new development, business growth and reinvestment in neglected urban areas.

The Activist Entrepreneur: What I Learned About Business at the Urban Coalition & My Proven Keys to Personal and Career Success tells the epic story of Walt Douglas’ rise from humble roots in Hamlet, N.C., to a central role in Detroit politics and community affairs as president of New Detroit Inc., one of the nation’s first urban coalition organizations.  After promoting innovative business development and partnership between community and business leaders, Douglas proved he could practice what he preached.  He and a partner bought the auto dealership owned and operated by Warren Avis, founder of Avis Rent a Car – then fought off Avis’ efforts to wrest it back five years later.

Ultimately, The Activist Entrepreneur chronicles Douglas’ 25 years of growth as owner-operator of one of the nation’s most successful Ford dealerships, including the turmoil and struggle of surviving the Great Recession of 2008-2010.  In the process, it shares valuable lessons about family, friendships and strategic partnerships that bridge boundaries and produce profound change.

Douglas expounds on power politics, choosing and financing good business investments, the struggle to launch a startup, best management practices, and passing a family business to the next generation. He offers fascinating stories about Mayor Coleman Young, Henry Ford II, Jesse Jackson and Tiger Woods.  Douglas also provides insights on networking, skillfully overcoming bigotry and bias, child-rearing, and keys to a happy marriage – even after 50 years.

The Activist Entrepreneur is coauthored by former business journalist Anthony Neely, who serves as Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s press secretary and held the same position in the administration of Mayor Dennis Archer. The book is the first published by Neely’s own Neely Media Group.

Speak Your Mind


What I Learned About Business at the Urban Coalition
& Other Keys to Career and Personal Success

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Activist Entrepreneur