Legendary Actors Ossie Davis and Morgan Freeman Receive the Prestigious Ford Freedom Award

Legendary actors Ossie Davis and Morgan Freeman were honored at the 2006 Ford Freedom Award black-tie gala, which was held on Monday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Proceeds from the program supported the museum’s educational programmes, exhibits, and community outreach initiatives.

Davis was honoured as the 2006 Ford Freedom Award Honoree at the event. His widow, Ruby Dee, accepted the award on his behalf. The Ford Freedom Award, created in 1999, is presented posthumously to distinguished individuals who dedicated their lives to improving the African American community and the world in general. A brass plate bearing Davis’ name was added to the Ring of Genealogy, the centerpiece of the Ford Freedom Rotunda lobby at the museum, and was unveiled during the awards programme.

Freeman, the 2006 Ford Freedom Award Scholar, delivered the scholar’s lecture at the Detroit Opera House and addressed the audience at the evening’s gala. The Ford Freedom Award Scholar honor is bestowed upon a living individual who has demonstrated excellence in the field of the award recipient. Freeman spoke to nearly 2,000 students at the Opera House, including winners of the Ford Freedom Award Essay Contest hosted by Detroit Newspapers in Education.

This year, Woodie King Jr. was given a special 2006 Ford Freedom Pioneer Award for providing a path to success in the performing arts for many talented African Americans. King is founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre and National Black Touring Circuit in New York City.

“The partnership between Ford Motor Company and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History speaks to the company’s commitment to celebrate diversity,” said Ziad Ojakli, Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Ford Motor Company. “As we commemorate the life of Ossie Davis and appreciate the work of Morgan Freeman, we at Ford Motor Company applaud their contributions to society and their efforts to unite people through their skills.”

“We salute Fold Motor Company for its ongoing support of the Ford Freedom Award,” said Tyrone Davenport, Chief Operating Officer of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “Over the years, Ossie Davis and Morgan Freeman have served as role models for people of all ages and backgrounds in the entertainment industry, and we are proud to add Ossie Davis’ name to the Ring of Genealogy.”

Ossie Davis, who was born Raiford Chatman Davis, acted in more than 100 films following his debut in the 1950s. In addition to acting, Davis worked as a writer, director and producer. His film credits include No Way Out, Malcolm X, and Four Little Girls. Davis received an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Drama, a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Ford Motor Company and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History dubbed Davis.

The Groundbreaker for opening doors for other African American actors to perform.
Morgan Freeman has acted in more than 70 roles since the 1960s. Films include Seven, A Man Called Adam and Million Dollar Baby, for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Freeman also has received a Golden Globe for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, six NAACP Image Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.

Ford Motor Company and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History dubbed Freeman The Captivator for his ability to grab audiences’ attention with his gripping performances.

In addition to founding the New Federal Theatre and National Black Touring Circuit, Woodie King Jr. made a mark in the theatrical circuit by producing or directing more than 170 on and off Broadway shows, including For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf, the 1991 production of A Raisin in the Sun and the 1993 production of Good Black Don’t Crack. He has also produced and directed many shows in Detroit. King holds a Doctorate in Humane Letters from Detroit’s Wayne State University.

Previous Ford Freedom recipients include:
2003 Tuskegee Airman Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. and NASA astronaut Mae C. Jemison
2004 Educator/civil rights activist Benjamin Mays and Educator/philanthropist/actor Bill Cosby
2005 The Songstress – Ella Fitzgerald,The Stylist – Al Jarreau

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