DEARBORN - Throughout the course of history, African Americans have made significant contributions in areas ranging from government to law, science and medicine to education and literature, sports, music, film and dance. This rich history, along with the achievements of notable African Americans, is celebrated during Black History Month.
The Ford African Ancestry Network (FAAN) 32nd Annual Black History celebration held on Feb. 22 at the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn, Mich., recognized local pioneers who have made important milestones to improve our nation. The event, featuring keynote speaker and award-winning journalist, Roland S. Martin, attracted close to 550 guests that included Ford employees, executives, dignitaries and retirees.
Martin’s high-spirited keynote address, “More than Your Presence is Required,” stressed the importance of creating your own destiny and also making a difference within the community. According to Martin, each one of us has a responsibility to leave an important legacy and make the world a better place.
“I am amazed when I go to events and folks are recognizing pioneers and people who do great work. It means that they frankly have stood out above the rest to make a difference – whether it is in a company, or in the community, ” Martin said.
Each year, FAAN presents awards to local visionaries who have made significant contributions to our society.
Community Service Honoree, Iris A. Taylor, PhD, RN, executive vice president and president, Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center, began her career as a staff nurse. Today, Dr. Taylor oversees one of Michigan’s busiest hospitals and builds relationships with the community to provide healthcare outreach to children and families.
“We have a community that has a host of needs and I think as we pursue our careers and achieve things within our careers we have an obligation to reach out and try to touch the community and fulfill the need around us,” said Taylor. “I say thank you to FAAN for honoring me, but I also say to each one of you that I challenge you to reach out and touch the community in some kind of way so that we can make a better place for all of us,” Taylor said.
Armond R. Harris, Terrence J. L. Thompson and Shawn T. Blanchard also received the Community Service Award for starting “Run This Town,” a networking and exercise group that began with a small group of friends who meet twice a week on Detroit’s Riverwalk. The group has grown to over 250 individuals who want to make a change for themselves and their city.
“It is an honor and pleasure to service the Detroit community with Run This Town. All of us, either living in Detroit or the Metro area, have family members or friends who directly benefit from the movement that was started,” said co-founder Shawn Blanchard. “Like FAAN, Run This Town, enables people with like minds and similarities to come together and embrace one another in a familiar network,” Blanchard said.
Dr. Violet Lewis (posthumous), founder, Lewis College of Business, was honored with the Heritage Award. Dr. Lewis is one of three African American women to found a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Lewis College of Business made a quality, affordable education accessible to African American students. Dr. Lewis’ granddaughter, Violet Ponders, accepted the award. “I thank FAAN, not just for honoring Violet T. Lewis, but for being all it is for so many people,” Ponders said.
With a history dating back to 1983, FAAN is Ford’s first employee resource group. FAAN’s mission is to promote an environment within Ford which recognizes the value of diversity and attracts, develops and retains African-Ancestry employees to the fulfilment of company objectives.