He was Charlotte’s first Black owner of a new-car dealership


This story is part of our new series, Beyond Black History. Got a story about Charlotte’s Black history? Email daija@qcitymetro.com.


Sam Johnson was determined to succeed despite the odds stacked against him: He was Black growing up in the Jim Crow South, and had dropped out of school. 

Johnson’s determination led him to become the first Black new-car dealer in Charlotte, N.C in the 1970s. 

At the height of his career, he owned five dealerships that collectively sold 795 cars a month.

Johnson later sold his Charlotte dealerships, retired and moved to South Carolina in 2002.

Growing up on a plantation





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