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— Retiring U.S. Rep. John Dingell and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith are among those who were honored by the Michigan Congressional Black Caucus as part of the 44th annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation legislative conference.

Dingell, who is retiring at the end of the year after a record-setting 58 years in Congress, was presented with the 2014 John Conyers Jr. Public Service Award. Conyers was a former aide to Dingell before running for Congress. Conyers will become the dean of the House -- as the longest serving current member -- in January if he wins reelection in November.

"It is an honor to be receiving this prestigious recognition named for my dear friend John Conyers," . Dingell said. "It has been a blessing to serve the proud people of Michigan for nearly six decades, and I look forward to celebrating this recognition with the other fine honorees."

Keith was presented with the Champion of Justice Award. Also recognized were retiring Michigan members of Congress Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Howell and Dave Camp, R-Midland.

Keith, 92, is still working hard. This week, he joined a important opinion upholding a lower court decision that found the state of Ohio's efforts to limit early voting in Ohio to be illegal.

He will again be sitting hearing cases for a week in Cincinnati next month. For the last four months, an aspiring documentary filmmaker has been recording Keith's life. "You can rust out or keep working," Keith said. "I don't plan to rust out. I plan to keep working." He said as long as he can contribute, he plans to keep working.

Additional awards were the Distinguished Business Leader Trailblazer Award and the Distinguished Corporate Citizen-Small Award presented to Rodgers Chevrolet. Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. (retired) Harry T. Stewart, Jr., who lives in Metro Detroit and will be presented with the Courage and Valor Award for Distinguished Military Service.

Many major Michigan companies or companies with large operations in the state are sponsoring the event including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Quicken Loans, JPMorgan Chase, DTE Energy, Advance America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Kellogg Co, Coca-Cola Co, Detroit Salt Company, AARP, St. John Providence Health System, MGM Resorts Int'l, Skillman Foundation, Rodgers Chevrolet and Walbridge, Thomas Group Consulting.

"Ford is proud to recognize these outstanding Michigan leaders who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African American community," said Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. "We take great pride in continuing Ford's tradition of recognizing those who inspire and empower their communities and the world."

dshepardson@detroitnews.com

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