“My grandfather moved up here for employment. Wagner Castings, back in the ‘60s, was hiring African-Americans in record numbers.

“My dad started his business in 1981. I took over 18 years ago now.

“He was a very successful African-American business owner. All my life.

“That was a time when money was plentiful. Everybody was working. Crime was down. You had factories. Dad was working. Mom was working. Dad’s in the factory. Mom’s in the factory. They had checks coming in from everywhere.

“I always wanted to [take over the business]. I started selling cars for my father at his used car dealership at 15 years old. Other kids in Decatur would go on to football, basketball practice, whatever. Me, I was catching the bus to go downtown to the family-owned used car lot, to take my tie out of my bag, put my tie on and start selling cars.

“I always say, as me, from this side of the fence, in order to move a community forward you should have individuals who are business savvy to a certain degree. Running a city is business. How do we initiate business opportunities for the community if the leadership of the community doesn’t understand business? Our elected officials should understand business just a little bit more.”

Corey Walker
Decatur, Illinois