essay contest - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Encore!: Reintroducing the 2016 Ford Freedom Award Essay Contest Winners


In conjunction with the 2016 Ford Freedom Award, Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Detroit Newspapers in Education celebrated the positive contributions of African American men through a statewide essay contest that award over to $10,000 in scholarships. Approximately 1,000 Michigan-based public, private, parochial and home-school students in grades four through eight participated in a student essay contest as part of the African American Men of Courage program. Students were asked to write how these men demonstrate qualities of courage, and tell how those attributes have helped them find success in their own life and community.


Due to the superior skills, moving stories, and unique characteristics showcased by this year's group of finalist, Ford awarded each student with a $250 scholarship. The top five contestants, lead by grand prize winner Damond Dixon, who wrote about his older brother, Aaron, are recognized below. Their prizes ranged from $500 - $5,000 in scholarships. 


(Left to right) Wright Museum Trustee Jimmy Settles, Carrington Wash, Louisa Karoub, Sarah Miller, Damond Dixon, and former Detroit Lion Lomas Brown.

First Place Winner

Damond Dixon, Golightly Education Center, 6th grade

I'm very thankful for having my brother in my life. He gets most of his knowledge form my dad who was also a man of courage. I wouldn't have turned out the same without them. I'm very proud to be his little brother and I think he feels the same way. My big brother Aaron, a man of courage.


Second Place Winner (shared)

Lillian Deering, Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, 8th grade

... We are set to choose between a path of corruption that is paved with diamonds and trite security and a path laden with infinitely more obstacles, yet glistening of adventurous beauty and daring. The first path is mundane, black and white, whereas, the latter is bursting with color. Only the greatest artists and bohemian souls dare choose the second, date live the life of a romantic. With the guidance of one of the first African Americans to do this, Paul Laurence Dunbar, I will take to the sky.


Author and Ford Courage Award recipient Shaka Senghor with son, Sekou.

Second Place Winner (shared)

Louisa Karoub, West Hills Middle School, 8th grade 

Malcom said to Alex Haley in his autobiography that "I never trusted a man without a watch. A man without a watch does not value time." I am young American, and my intention is to change this planet for the better and my role model is Malcom X. 

Third Place Winner

Carrington Wash, Southfield Christian School, 4th grade

 My grandfather's creativity and love for music inspires my desire to praise and worship God through music, dance, and sign-language. My grandfather, Ernest Kelley, provided me with wings of courage to celebrate the person I am and will become through a lifetime of service and gratitude.


Our Men of Courage, along with President and CEO Juanita Moore and mother of Ford Freedom Honoree Reginald Lewis, Carolyn Fugget.

Fourth Place Winner

Sarah Miller, Trinity Lutheran School, 7th grade

I aspire to model as much courage and provide as much inspiration as Asa Philip Randolph. When the invisible could not speak, he gave them a voice. When the mistreated list all hope, he helped them fight. I dream of the day that I can accomplish a fraction of what Asa Philip Randolph has accomplished; however, nothing is achieved all at once. 

Fifth Place Winner

Dan Brown, Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, 7th grade

Jaylen D. Bledsoe has shown society that African Americans can do anything if they believe in what they want to do in life. Jaylen D. Bledsoe has many characteristics and qualities, some of which are being smart, honest, encouraging, being confident, and being a motivator. All these characteristics can help me be successful in my life. 

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