The winner, Mohammad Muntakim, an 8th grader from Davison Elementary-Middle School, received $5,000 for his essay, which described his passion for respect through Academic Games. The second place winner received $2,500, while the third place winner received $1,500. Both of the runner ups each received $500. The remaining $10,000 distributed between all of the winning entrants to help bring their ideas to life. The students will also receive exclusive mentors, who will guide them in the directions they need to achieve proper success.
Subsequently, the Ford Freedom Awards were distributed to their respective winners this year. The theme, "Talents That Unite! How African Americans Bring Diverse Communities Together Across America", celebrates the accomplishments of winners in the past, and focuses on the road ahead for potential winners in the future. The winning essays and accolades of the Freedom Awards were added to the 2017 Talents that Unite program, which showcases each winning essay and project.
The 2017 Ford Freedom Award scholar is Floyd Norman, a distinguished animator and the first African American to be hired at Disney. Norman’s career spans nearly six decades including work on family favorites such as “The Jungle Book”, “Mulan” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” In 2007, Norman received the prestigious Disney Legend award. He also co-founded Vignette Films to produce movies about black history for high schools."
Ford's close bond with the African American community dates back to the early 20th century, when it was the largest employer of African Americans in the auto industry. Today, it continues to recognize this legacy with programs like Ford Freedom Unsung, Ford Blue Oval Scholars, and the Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge. Ford's award of $20,000 in scholarships to essay contest winners shows their care and time they put towards the communities that have given them so much.
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