Ford Freedom Award

The contributions one individual makes to his or her community can improve the lives of many. To celebrate the contributions of individuals in the African-American community, we present the Ford Freedom Award and the Ford Freedom Award Scholar at a black-tie gala each year.

Recognizing Individuals

We launched the Ford Freedom Award program in 1999, working with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History. The program has created a forum to celebrate and recognize individuals whose achievements have brought lasting and positive change for African-Americans and the world.


Ford Freedom Award Recipients

The Ford Freedom Award Honoree is presented posthumously to a distinguished African American who has dedicated his or her life to improving the African-American community and the world at large through their chosen field.

Past Freedom Award Honorees have included the following individuals:

2008: Coretta Scott King

2007: Doctor Charles B. Purvis

2006: Actor Ossie Davis

2005: Songstress Ella Fitzgerald

2004: Educator Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

2003: Tuskegee Airman Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr.

2002: Baseball great Jackie Robinson

2001: Writer Langston Hughes

2000: Entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.

1999: Detroit mayor Coleman A. Young

Ford Freedom Award Scholar

To recognize the living legends who inspire the next generation, we present the Ford Freedom Award Scholar to an African-American who has excelled on a national or international level in the field of the Ford Freedom Award Honoree.

Past Freedom Award Scholars have included the following individuals:

2008: Dr. Dorothy I. Height

2007: Doctor Benjamin S. Carson

2006: Actor Morgan Freeman

2005: Vocal stylist Al Jarreau

2004: Entertainer Bill Cosby

2003: NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison

2002: Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Reggie Jackson

2001: Poet Sonia Sanchez

2000: Entertainer Gregory Hines

1999: Former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young