2 business partners set example for race relations in Montgomery

2 business partners set example for race relations in Montgomery
Dawn Knapp and Fred Porterfield admitted they make an unlikely pair. 
Dawn Knapp (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Dawn Knapp (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Fred Porterfield (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Fred Porterfield (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dawn Knapp and Fred Porterfield laugh about it now. They chuckle at the comments people made more than 20 years ago, predicting their business partnership simply wouldn't work.

"Basically, they were saying 'are you sure you want to do this? Why do you want to work with a white woman?'," Fred Porterfield explained.

It all started when Porterfield hired Knapp for part-time work at a local grocery store. Porterfield at that time was the night time manager. It turned out both had an interest in fixing cars and fate took care of the rest. They tied a knot and hung on.

"I don't see her as being white. All I see is she is a very knowledgeable person in the car business," Porterfield went on.

Knapp and Porterfield joined forces and formed F and D Auto repair which happens to be in the shadow of the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice Museum. The irony isn't lost on the business partners. They are examples of what is right in race relations.

"We also listen to each other and value each other's ideas," Knapp added.

Knapp and Porterfield say they make a good team. She gets her hands dirty as much as he does and that includes handling a 600-pound engine. They have no employees, only themselves.

"It's a small shop and I can get it done," Porterfield said, "and we work together to get it done."

The business takes in between 150 to 200 vehicles per month. Their specialty is repairing engines and air conditioning. While Porterfield and Knapp welcome their new neighbor behind them, the friends proved long ago what can be in the search for equality.

The National Memorial Peace and Justice Museum officially opens on Thursday.

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