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Ford’s Black History Month celebration shapes a new generation of leaders

Ford Motor Company of Detroit continues to represent the community in which it serves. The Ford-Employees African Ancestry Network hosted its 38th annual Black History Month celebration on Feb. 15, 2019. Held at The Henry, Autograph Collection hotel, media and marketing specialist Lauren M. Sanders served as the mistress of ceremonies for the inspirational event.

Employees and supporters proudly celebrated this year’s theme: Shaping a new generation of leaders to create tomorrow. Upholding a legacy of reverence for leaders from the African American community, FAAN acknowledged four influential trailblazers. The evening’s honorees embody tenacity, innovation and perseverance. Founder of Bags to Butterflies, Michelle Smart; and the founder and CEO of Yunion, Jason Wilson, each received a Community Service Award. Bags to Butterflies is a Detroit-based organization that empowers formerly incarcerated women with transitional employment, resources and a caring network.

Wilson, who recently released his book, Cry Like A Man, has over 14 years of experience in training and developing young Black men. Under his leadership, Yunion has reached more than 10K youth and young adults in Metro Detroit.

Renowned urban planner Sharon Madison; and the former vice president of UAW-Ford National Programs Center, James “Jimmy” Settles Jr., each received a Heritage Award. As the third-generation leader in her family’s architecture, engineering, planning and construction business, Madison secures several seats for women and minorities.

Settles, who began his career with Ford Motor Company over 50 years ago, currently leads the city of Detroit’s Department of Neighborhoods. This department oversees district managers who address community concerns.

With contagious zeal, the evening’s keynote speaker, Roslyn Brock, urged the audience to proactively prepare our future leaders. “When they continue, as you have, to grapple with the difficult issues of cultural competency, diversity and inclusion; FAAN, are you ready to win the future?” she asked.

“We need men and women who look like you,” she said while pointing to those surrounding her, “who have mental rightness, clarity of purpose and a burning desire to make this nation what it ought to be: One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice — not just for some— but justice for all!”

The NAACP national board of directors chairman emeritus also spoke about how a winning future will look. “When your leaders look into your faces in the plant and in the executive suite, they should see faces of hope and people of action who ain’t afraid to bring to life the whispered narratives of our foreparents who believed that we’ve come too far to back now,” she said.

Featuring classic cuisine from our culture, the buffet had items such as red beans and rice, fried catfish and macaroni and cheese. The Grammy-nominated trio The HamilTones entertained attendees with their soul-soaked harmonies.

Ford Motor Company is proud to call the Ford-employee African Ancestry Network its first employee resource group. Established in 1982, it strives to create an environment where employees of African descent and other minorities are represented at every level of the company.