Tech, innovation celebrated at Ford Freedom Awards
Entrepreneurs in the technology field were honored Tuesday during an evening of fashion, music and celebrities at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit.
The theme of the Ford Freedom Awards was "Celebrating Technopreneurs: Builders of the Innovation Economy," hosted by Ford Motor Co. and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Guests, honorees and presenters, including multi-platinum recording artist Big Sean with his mother, Myra Anderson, electronic music pioneer Kevin Saunderson and restaurateur Phillip Cooley, strolled a red carpet.
Scott Goldman of the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares was on hand to introduce Grammy-nominated jazz and R&B singer Ledisi.
"We're here because Ford is here, and we're happy to support the Charles H. Wright Museum," said Goldman before the event, adding that his companies have partnered with Ford to expand music programs in schools across Metro Detroit.
"We're here to support music education and keep music education programs in schools."
This year's Ford Freedom Award honoree was inventor and engineer Elijah McCoy. Canadian born and Michigan raised, McCoy received nearly 60 patents in his lifetime and invented an automatic lubricator for steam engines. He's often associated with the phrase "the real McCoy." He died in Detroit in 1929. The award honors individuals who work to improve the lives of African-Americans.
CODE2040 founder Laura Weidman Powers was named the 2015 Ford Freedom Award Scholar. Her company provides fellowship opportunities for African-Americans and Latinos in Silicon Valley.
"It's such an honor to be here, I was so blown away by all the people I met today," said Powers. "It's amazing to be singled out to get an award among such great company."
The winners of the 2015 Ford Freedom Award scholarship essay contest were announced during the ceremony. Leena Jandali, a fifth-grader from Bloomfield Hills Middle School was awarded first place and won a $5,000 scholarship. Second-place winner was Ketan Revankar, an eighth-grader at West Hills Middle School in West Bloomfield. Justin Abney, a fifth-grader from Southfield's Brace-Lederle school, was third-place winner.
Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein were to be honored for their charitable contributions.