Ford Media Center

Ford Celebrates Contributions of African American Men with Student Curriculum, Essay Contest, $10,000 in Scholarships

  • Together, Ford Motor Company, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Detroit Newspapers in Education launch new online curriculum celebrating contributions of African American men
  • Approximately 1,000 students across Michigan to participate in annual essay contest and compete for up to $10,000 in scholarships; deadline is March 24
  • Contest winners to be announced at 18th annual Ford Freedom Award program “Men of Courage: Advancing the Narrative of African American Men,” May 17 

DEARBORN, Mich., March 4, 2016 – Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Detroit Newspapers in Education is celebrating the positive contributions of African American men through a new online supplement and statewide essay contest that will award up to $10,000 in scholarships.

The Ford Freedom Award educational program consists of a student supplement, classroom poster and teacher guide geared toward grades three and up. The 16-page supplement highlights notable work by and on behalf of African Americans. The full student supplement will be posted online March 16 at Schools in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties are encouraged to order hard copies of the supplement by March 8 online or by contacting D. Scola at (313) 222-6895.

In addition to the educational supplement, approximately 1,000 Michigan-based public, private, parochial and home-school students in grades four through eight are expected to participate in a student essay contest as part of the African American Men of Courage program. Students will be asked to write how they demonstrate qualities of courage, and tell how those attributes have helped them find success in their own life and community. The deadline to enter is March 24. Additional contest details and supplement information are available at

Winners of the 2016 essay contest will be presented with scholarships at the Ford Freedom Awards event in Detroit, an annual celebration of African American success and achievement.

“Ford has a long history of recognizing unsung heroes in the African American community,” said Shawn Wilson, multicultural manager, Ford Motor Company Fund, the charitable arm of Ford Motor Company. “This year we are proud to honor African American Men of Courage for their contributions and strong personal character as a way to build and strengthen communities.”

The 18th annual Ford Freedom Award program takes place May 17 at Orchestra Hall, part of the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. This year’s theme, “Men of Courage: Advancing the Narrative of African American Men,” will celebrate achievements of the past, present and future, while highlighting selected African American men for their diverse, complex and valiant stories. This year’s honorees will be announced at a later time.

“African American history is literally filled with ‘Men of Courage,’” said Juanita Moore, president and CEO, Wright Museum. “The thousands of schoolchildren across Michigan who participate in this year’s essay contest will be inspired by their endeavors, which demonstrate dedication, hard work, and the courage to break through barriers to achieve one’s grandest dreams.”

Launched as a pilot program in Detroit last year, Men of Courage connects diverse black men from local communities with a growing list of renowned advocates and celebrities. Together, these groups seek to support one another and align to build relationships in an effort to help improve the perception of African American men in society.

Ford’s support of the African American community dates back to the early 20th century when the company was the largest employer of African Americans in the auto industry. Now, Ford is building on that support with signature initiatives that include Ford Freedom Unsung, Ford Blue Oval Scholars and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge.

The Ford Freedom Award program is made possible by a grant from Ford Motor Company Fund. Proceeds from the event will benefit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which is celebrating its 51st anniversary. 

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History provides learning opportunities, exhibitions, programs and events based on collections and research that explore the diverse history and culture of African Americans and their African origins. Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information, please visit

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