Ford Motor Company Fund celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by launching a national initiative around Men of Courage – a program that honors and amplifies the accomplishments of African American men with the goal of strengthening communities and creating positive social change.
The initiative consists of a national contest of inspirational stories from which Ford will select a winner to honor at the Ford Freedom Awards May 17 in Detroit. Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, is also developing a free online curriculum and teaching guide that profiles 20 prominent African American men. The program seeks to enable junior and secondary high school students to create visions for success. (Visit MenOfCourage.com for contest and curriculum information.)
The national contest was launched at a Men of Courage gathering inside the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore. Ford, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, and 100 Black Men of America convened a diverse group of 60 black men ranging in age from 17 to 70 for a daylong forum of storytelling, visioning and developing plans for action.
“Ford has a long history of supporting the African American community and is a trusted source when it comes to building communities,” said forum participant Burt Jordan, Ford vice president, Global Vehicle and Powertrain Purchasing & Supplier Diversity. “Men of Courage has the power to bring together African American men in a way that will positively impact people throughout the country.”
Group members have made more than 300 commitments to provide social and financial capital to projects honoring black men. These include support for a yearlong program at Reginald F. Lewis Museum around the theme Year of the Black Male, which explores past, present and future issues facing black men. Members also have pledged to help scale Shop Talk – a monthly panel discussion. The series was developed by Sebastian Jackson, a Detroit-based entrepreneur and owner of Social Grooming, an innovative barbershop and community meeting place.
“I believe we have the talent and skills to solve today’s social challenges right in our own communities,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. “Men of Courage is an important program because it provides support to those who are developing solutions, and gives our young people a guide to how they can create a brighter future for themselves.”