RELEASE: Five African American Families Gift $100K Each in Charles H. Wright Museum's 50th Year - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

RELEASE: Five African American Families Gift $100K Each in Charles H. Wright Museum's 50th Year


Local leaders and host committee lead The Wright's most successful fundraiser​

October 15, 2015 | DETROIT – On October 10, in the midst of a year-long recognition, the Wright Museum's 50th Anniversary celebration reached a new peak during the fifth-annual Wright Gala. Over 1,100 local and national business, community, and philanthropic leaders witnessed the most successful fundraiser in the museum's history. The black-tie event, which took place at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, procured nearly $1.8 million, with donations still being received.

"My goal was to have an African American donor giving $100,000 for each decade of the Museum's 50-year history," Wright Gala Chair Vivian Rogers Pickard, President of the General Motors Foundation & Director, Corporate Relations for General Motors Company, said as she introduced the five donors Saturday night. "I am so proud to say that we have accomplished that goal!" 

This achievement came from the generous gifts of five Detroit-based African American entities: Bridgewater Interiors, Prestige Automotive, Roy & Maureen Roberts, The Sid E. Taylor Foundation, and The Pickard Family Fund. All have been longtime supporters of the museum, albeit not at the current level. For example, Bill Pickard was a major sponsor of the recent exhibition, Shadow Matter: The Rhythm of Structure, and Vivian Rogers Pickard has served on the Gala committee since its inception in 2011. Sid Taylor made his pledge to the museum at the 2nd Annual Sankofa Awards hosted by the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce. Prestige Automotive's Jacki and Gregory Jackson and Museum Trustee Maureen and Roy Roberts noted that their donations will go towards the museum's endowment. 

Judge Damon Keith, Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and long-time museum supporter, stated, "As I get older, I realize now, more than ever before, the importance of having an understanding and appreciation of our history and pride in our heritage. The Wright Museum reminds us of the progress that previous generations fought for, and it fortifies us to have the integrity to end the injustices that continue to plague our world today."

"My goal was to have an African American donor giving $100,000 for each decade of the Museum's 50-year history. I am so proud to say that we have accomplished that goal! "

            - The Wright Gala Committee Chair, Vivian Rogers Pickard

Special guest Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. first gave a historic glimpse of African American achievement and cultural sustenance, emphasizing the importance of institutions like The Wright Museum, before leading an invocation. 

Other gala attendees supported the museum's efforts by participating in the live and silent auctions, which raised an accumulated total of $185,000. The silent auction featured 18 original art pieces inspired by the museum's current exhibition, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair; pieces created and donated by GM Global Design Center's Design Team. During the program, a Fashion Fair-inspired sculpture was presented to Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company, and daughter of Ebony Fashion Fair founder Eunice Johnson.

Ford Motor Company encouraged attendees to become members of The Wright by offering a custom gold 50th Anniversary commemorative bracelet. Members also gained access to the Ford Member's Lounge hosted in collaboration with actor and stage director, Blair Underwood. Ford also gifted the Museum with a new Ford Transit van, to be used to assist the museum in transporting individuals participating in educational outreach programs throughout the city. 

"We are overwhelmed and inspired by the amount of support that has poured in from all corners of the community during our 50th Anniversary year," said Juanita Moore, Wright Museum president & CEO. "We now move forward with confidence that in the next 50 years, our efforts will be elevated, magnified and backed by those who have already stepped forward, and those who will join the journey. We are so thankful and hope our unyielding gratitude is expressed through the work we continue to do in and for Detroit." 

The Gala Committee was chaired by Vivian Rogers Pickard, president at General Motors Foundation with co-chairs Pamela Alexander, director of community development with Ford Motor Company Fund, and Faye Nelson, vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy and president of the DTE Energy Foundation. 84 volunteers - comprised of prominent local entrepreneurs, philanthropists and businesswomen – served on the 2015 Gala Host Committee. 

About Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair 
This first-ever exhibition on the Ebony Fashion Fair explores the 50-year history of the fashion spectacle that redefined the concepts of beauty, style, and empowerment for African Americans. At the center of Inspiring Beauty are the stunning gowns displayed on fully stylized mannequins from designers such as Stephen Burrows, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent, Bob Mackie, Missoni, Nina Ricci, Sarli, Emanuel Ungaro, and Vivienne Westwood. Inspiring Beauty is made possible by Exhibition Partners Bridgewater Interiors, Chevrolet, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Foundation, Jackson Asset Management, LEAR, the Pickard Family Fund, Prestige Automotive Group, Maureen & Roy Roberts, and the Sid E. Taylor Foundation; and Arts & Education sponsors Detroit Manufacturing Systems, DTE Energy Foundation, and Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair was developed by the Chicago History Museum in cooperation with Johnson Publishing Company, LLC, presented by the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. Inspiring Beauty is on display through January 3, 2016, and is free with museum admission. 

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 
Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information visit 

Nikia Washington | PR & Social Media Manager | 313.494.5866 |​

Click here for photos of The Wright Gala


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