Ford Motor Company and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Celebrate 10th Anniversary of the Ford Freedom Award Program

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Event honors "Freedom Sister" Coretta Scott King and "Freedom Fighter" Dr. Dorothy I. Height. Elder Bernice King will accept Ford Freedom Award on behalf of her mother, Coretta Scott King.

Coretta Scott King and Dr. Dorothy Height will be honored for their outstanding achievements at the 10th annual Ford Freedom Award program on May 6, 2008. The day long event includes both a scholar's lecture for invited middle schools in the morning at Orchestra Hall and a ticketed evening gala at 6 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement", will receive the Ford Freedom Award posthumously; and Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, has been named the Ford Freedom Award Scholar. Kevin Frazier, weekend anchor and correspondent of Entertainment Tonight and local TV host Chuck Stokes, WXYZ-TV will once again serve as emcees of the evening gala.

"Ford created the Ford Freedom Award program in partnership with the Charles H. Wright Museum to honor outstanding individuals who have made immeasurable contributions to our country and our world," said Ziad Ojakli, group vice president, Government and Community Relations, Ford Motor Company. "I am proud to be a part of honoring these two amazing women who have truly changed history as we know it."

The Ford Freedom Award program was created in 1999 to celebrate and recognize individuals whose achievements brought lasting and positive change for African Americans and the world. The program is underwritten by Ford, and funds raised are used to support the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History's educational programs, exhibits and community outreach initiatives. Past honorees have included Ossie Davis, Langston Hughes, Bill Cosby, Dr. Ben Carson, Al Jarreau and Sonia Sanchez, etc.

"The museum is excited to once again partner with Ford Motor Company to celebrate the life and legacy of two of America's most committed freedom warriors. It is an honor to host Dr. Dorothy Height and Elder Bernice King, daughter of Coretta Scott King, in Detroit at the world's largest Museum dedicated to African American culture," said Juanita Moore, president and CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

The Award program consists of three components:

  •     Scholar's Lecture: Education is a key component of the Ford Freedom program. Each year the Ford Freedom Scholar addresses nearly 1,500 Detroit-area grade school students about the achievements of the Ford Freedom Award Honoree. The 2008 scholar's lecture will feature Dr. Height and Elder Bernice King who will share their thoughts and experiences on Coretta Scott King, all in an effort to inspire and engage future leaders. This year's lecture will also feature a "Ford Freedom Spelling Bee" moderated by actress, Keke Palmer of "Akeelah and the Bee."
  •     Ford Freedom Award Essay Contest: This annual contest reaches out to 2,000 Michigan students, in grades four to eight. This year's topic asks students to express, "I am free becauseā€¦" Winners receive savings bonds that can be used to further their future educational goals. Awards will be presented during the Ford Freedom Award Scholar's Lecture. Additionally, in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Ford Freedom Award and the legacy of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Dorothy Height, two special awards will also be presented to students who have shown extraordinary volunteer community service efforts.
  •     Ford Freedom Gala: This black-tie strolling dinner and awards presentation recognizes and celebrates the Ford Freedom Award Honoree and Scholar. Each of the previous nine years community leaders from throughout the region have been invited to pay homage to the Ford Freedom Award winners.

The Ford Freedom Award program is made possible by a grant from Ford Motor Company. Silver sponsors of the event are Chrysler and Comerica Bank. For additional information and tickets, call 313-494-5800 or visit

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With more than 280,000 employees and more than 100 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.

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. The Charles H. Wright Museum strives to be recognized as the institution of choice for exploring and presenting African American history and culture. The Museum is located at 315 E. Warren Avenue in Detroit, Mich.


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