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Ford to Honor August Wilson, Floyd Norman at 19th Annual Ford Freedom Award

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19th Annual Ford Freedom Awards

Ford is teaming with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for the 19th annual Ford Freedom Award program, which adopts the theme of “Talents That Unite! How African Americans Bring Diverse Communities Together Across America” for 2017.

The annual program, which honors the contributions of African Americans throughout history, turns this year toward contributions in art and culture. The recipient of the 2017 Ford Freedom Award is August Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Fences,” which won the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play and was recently adapted as an Academy Award-nominated feature film starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Costanza Romero Wilson will accept the award on behalf of her late husband.

Earning the title of Ford Freedom Award scholar is Floyd Norman, the first African American to be hired by Disney and an animator whose work includes stints with Pixar and Hanna-Barbera in addition to the foundation of Vignette Films. Wilson will be honored with a nameplate installation and a screening of the documentary “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life.”


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Floyd Norman An Animated Life

“Ford is proud to be a continuing partner with the Wright Museum, to celebrate the positive contributions of these African American men,” said Ziad Ojakli, group vice president, government and community relations, Ford Motor Company. “Their powerful art and personal courage reflects the stories and struggles of American communities, and inspires us for the future.”

“Thanks to our partners at Ford, the Wright Museum enjoys this unique platform to showcase the tremendous contributions and talents of August Wilson and Floyd Norman,” said Juanita Moore, museum president and CEO. “As the Wright enters its 52nd year of serving this community, it is fitting that we are honoring two men whose artistic works so exemplify the American story.”

August Wilson

August Wilson

The invitation-only awards ceremony takes place on May 22nd from 6-9 pm at the museum proper. The following day, the Max M. Fisher Music Center hosts the Ford Freedom Award Scholar’s Experience, where Ford will announce the winners of the 2017 essay contest and dole out more than $10,000 in scholarships.


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