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Usher, Jerome Bettis, Angie Stone and Doug E. Fresh to join Ford Freedom Award Event Celebrating Men of Courage

  • 2016 Ford Freedom Award to honor businessman Dave Bing, an NBA Hall of Famer and former Detroit mayor, and the late business tycoon Reginald F. Lewis, a Wall Street lawyer and philanthropist
  • First-ever Ford Courage Award honorees to include Shaka Senghor, criminal justice reform advocate, and Jonathan Butler, University of Missouri student activist
  • Musical performances by Angie Stone, Doug E. Fresh, Avery Wilson and Syncopated Ladies; appearances by Grammy winner Usher and NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis

DEARBORN, Mich., May 9, 2016 – Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, will celebrate the positive contributions of African American men at the 18th annual Ford Freedom Award program.

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 select African American men for their diverse, complex and valiant stories. The program recognizes the empowering impact of these men on their families and communities, along with their servant leadership, professional excellence and personal courage.

The Ford Freedom Award event takes place May 17, 6-9 p.m., at Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center (DSO Orchestra Hall) in Detroit. Tickets are $50 per person. A limited number of platinum VIP reception tickets – which include champagne and a red carpet experience – are available for $150. To purchase tickets or for additional event information, call the music center box office, 313.576.5111, or visit

“Ford is proud to join the Wright Museum in saluting the positive contributions of African American men,” said Ziad Ojakli, group vice president, government and community relations, Ford Motor Company. “Their leadership through family, business and philanthropy has been felt throughout American communities. They are true unsung heroes, and we are proud to honor such a diverse and accomplished group of men this year.”

The Ford Freedom Award honoree is a distinguished African American who dedicated his or her life to improving the African American community and the world at large. This year’s recipient is the late Reginald F. Lewis, a business tycoon, Wall Street lawyer and philanthropist renowned for his character, generosity and business acumen.

This year’s Ford Freedom Award scholar is Dave Bing, founder and chairman, Bing Youth Institute, an NBA Hall of Famer and the 62nd mayor of Detroit. The scholar serves as a living legacy, carrying forth the ideals of the honoree and furthering those achievements for a new generation.

In addition, Ford will present the inaugural Ford Courage Awards honoring three courageous individuals in the areas of family, community and sports. The newly added People’s Choice Ford Courage Award will be presented to Shaka Senghor, criminal justice reform advocate, TED Talks presenter and New York Times best-selling author. Senghor was selected via an online nomination video contest established in part through the Men of Courage project.

Other Ford Courage Award honorees expected to be on hand include Kerlin Blaise, former NFL player and successful businessman, president and owner of Blaze Contracting; and Jonathan Butler, University of Missouri graduate student activist and hunger striker. Grammy-nominated artist Angie Stone, hip hop icon Doug E. Fresh, season 3 contestant, The Voice, singer-songwriter and dancer Avery Wilson and famed tap-dancers Syncopated Ladies will perform.

Usher Raymond IV, Grammy award-winning artist and activist, and Jerome Bettis, Detroit native, NFL Hall of Famer and football analyst, will also both attend the event and participate as presenters.

“The Ford Freedom Award provides the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History a unique platform to pay tribute to some of America’s greatest influencers,” said Juanita Moore, president and CEO, The Wright Museum. “Honoree Reginald Lewis, who was undoubtedly influenced by African American trailblazers that came before him, understood the fundamental importance of African American history in inspiring others to blaze their own trails.”

Ford Motor Company’s support of the African American community dates back to the early 20th century when it 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, the charitable arm of Ford Motor Company. Proceeds from the Ford Freedom Award event will benefit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which is observing its 51st anniversary.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 201,000 employees and 67 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electrified vehicles, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles.  At the same time, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide or Ford Motor Credit Company, 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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