“Attending the Ford Freedom Award ‘Men of Courage’ Event” by UNL College Student, Myles Harlan

Thanks to our partner Ford and the Ford Motor Company Fund, UNL Detroit students and staff were able to attend the 18th Annual Ford Freedom Award, ‘Men of Courage’ event. It was powerful and inspiring for all who attended. Read the blog below to hear about the experience from the eyes UNL Mogul in Training, Myles Harlan, a junior in college at Vanderbilt University!

In a country where minorities, specifically African-American men, are often misrepresented in careers, social classes, higher education, and media outlets – to name a few – society can be discouraging at times, especially when stories, such as Trayvon Martin’s, surface. However, the Ford Motor Company and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, are working diligently to change this narrative of misrepresentation and discouragement into a one of triumph, resilience, integrity, ambition, and fearlessness. The 18th Annual Ford Freedom Award, entitled Men of Courage: Advancing the Narrative, highlighted several African-American men displaying redemption, success, and excellence, and honored them with awards for their achievements.

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The award recipients included, Reginald F. Lewis (Ford Freedom Honoree Award),  Kerlin Blaise (Ford Courage Award), Jonathan Butler (Ford Courage Award), Shaka Senghor (Ford Courage Award), and Dave Bing (Ford Freedom Scholar Award).  In the speeches delivered by all of these recipients, there was a common message: you must always live your life with a purpose and a goal because to live with purpose means to live with direction, guidance, and drive. When we achieve goals in our lives, we must always set and achieve another one. Most importantly, life is not always easy and will not hand us exactly what we want, so we must work vigorously towards our goals and never give up.

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As an attendee of this brilliant event, I left encouraged. I left in awe of how many narratives of African-American males paralleled my experience. I left wanting to share my own narrative some day, in order to encourage someone else. Witnessing the strengthened connection and bonding between the African-American men throughout the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, was an indescribable, once-in-a-lifetime moment that I will never forget. Thank you so much, Mr. Usher Raymond, IV (who actually presented the Ford Freedom Scholar Award to Mr. Dave Bing) and Usher’s New Look for placing me in an atmosphere where inspiration, motivation, and encouragement would take place (as Usher’s New Look has always done throughout all of the years that I’ve been involved with the foundation). It was an honor seeing the greatest mentortainer, Mr. Usher Raymond, IV, participating in such an ineffable moment. I am overwhelmed with pride for Mr. Usher Raymond, IV and the contributions and advancements that he’s made in the African-American male narrative. I am forever humbled and grateful. Thank you!

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