6th Annual Ford Freedom Award Celebrates the Power of Perseverance of Three Extraordinary Heroes


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DEARBORDN, MI--May 13, 2014: Event to honor former South African President Nelson Mandela, civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson of the Tuskegee Airmen

Annual award program to be held at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts with a special concert tribute by Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards

Proceeds to benefit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

To commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Ford Freedom Award program, Ford Motor Company, in partnership with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, will posthumously honor Nelson Mandela, along with Myrlie Evers-Williams and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson. The program will take place Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit. This year’s theme – the Power of Perseverance – salutes the late former president of South Africa, the civil rights activist and the Tuskegee Airman and World War II prisoner of war for their humility, commitment and contribution to the African-American community.

“Today we honor three African Americans who have persevered in the name of basic human rights for all people,” said Ziad Ojakli, group vice president, government and community relations, Ford Motor Company. “Their lives and legacies challenge us all to do more to make a difference in the world and in our own community.”

As the 2014 Ford Freedom Award honoree, Mandela will be remembered as an antiapartheid activist who spent more than 25 years in prison before becoming the first black president of South Africa.

This year’s Ford Freedom Award scholar is civil rights activist and author Evers-Williams, who for 30 years struggled to ensure the killer of her late husband, civil rights activist Medgar Evers, was brought to justice. Evers-Williams is being honored for her actions that inspire equal justice for all.

A special award will be presented to retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jefferson, who, as a member of the famous 332nd Fighter Group, the Tuskegee Airmen, was captured by the Nazis in World War II and held captive as a prisoner of war.

As part of the Ford Freedom Award educational outreach, Evers-Williams will address nearly 1,600 elementary and middle-school students from around the state. The 2014 Ford Freedom Award scholarship finalists also will be presented during the program. For the sixth year, former Disney star and Dancing with the Stars contestant Kyle Massey and his brother, actor Chris Massey, will serve as masters of ceremony for the scholars lecture.

“Perseverance, the fortitude to overcome against all odds, is a hallmark of the African-American experience,” says Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Wright Museum. “One would be hard-pressed to find two individuals who better exemplify this virtue than the late President Nelson Mandela and Myrlie Evers-Williams.”

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 through the arts, humanities, religion, business, politics, sports, science, entertainment or other field. The award is presented posthumously. The Ford Freedom Award scholar is an African American who has excelled on a national or international level in that individual’s chosen field. The scholar serves as a living legacy, carrying forth the ideals of the honoree and furthering those achievements for a new generation.

As part of the celebration, local Detroiters will also be honored for their perseverance. Tickets are $40 per person, or $35 for Wright Museum members. A special VIP meet-and-greet is available for $75, which includes an afterglow experience and photo opportunity with the honorees. The evening reception and award program will include a special tribute concert performance by Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards.

The Ford Freedom Award program is made possible by a grant from Ford Motor Company. For additional event and ticket information, call the Music Hall box office at 313.887.8581 or visit fordfreedomaward.

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