'Ford Freedom Award: The Power of Perseverance' celebrates Nelson Mandela on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

DETROIT (WXYZ) - WXYZ celebrates the lives of three civil rights leaders who made an impact on the world through their commitment to equality.  Ford Freedom Award: The Power of Perseverance will be hosted by Channel 7 Editorial and Public Affairs director Chuck Stokes, and will air Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 7.

The Ford Freedom Award recognizes an Honoree and a Scholar.  The Honoree award is presented posthumously to an individual who has dedicated his/her life to improving the African-American community.  The Scholar award is given to a person of color who has excelled on a national or international level.

The 2014 Honoree is Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist who spent more than 25 years in prison before becoming the first black South African president.  During a ceremony at the Charles H. Wright Museum, a nameplate, bearing Mandela’s name, will be installed in the museum’s “Ring of Genealogy,” joining the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman.

The 2014 Ford Freedom Award Scholar is Myrlie Evers-Williams, a civil rights activist and former president of the NAACP Board of Directors.  This year, the Ford Freedom Award honors perseverance with a special award presented to retired Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a Tuskegee Airman.  Jefferson flew 19 missions during WW II and endured eight months as a prisoner of war. 

Ford Freedom Award: The Power of Perseverance, is a partnership between WXYZ, the Ford Motor Company and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.  The program is part of a project that includes an award ceremony, a scholar’s lecture, an essay contest and an educational outreach effort. The Ford Freedom Award project was launched in 1999 to celebrate and recognize individuals whose achievements have brought lasting and positive change for African Americans and the world.

Former recipients of the Ford Freedom Award include; Congressman John Lewis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Judge Damon J. Keith, Usher, Robin Roberts, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Ben Carson, Bill Cosby and Reggie Jackson.

In addition to Saturday night's broadcast, an encore of the show will air on Sunday, June 8 at 12:00 p.m.

Honorees will be celebrated at a special event on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit. The evening will include a special tribute performance by The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards. More information and tickets are available here.

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