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Ford Freedom Award Gala Honors African-American ‘Quiet Heroes’

Passion, courage, commitment — just a few of the words used to describe Friday night’s honorees at the 15th Annual Ford Freedom Award gala in Detroit.

Rather than seeking spotlight during their struggles for justice, award organizers say the men and women honored are the unsung heroes of African-American history.

“First thing she’d say is, ‘Oh, no. I don’t need that.'” said Arlam Carr, Jr, accepting an award on behalf of his late mother, civil rights activist Johnny Carr.

The son’s reflection echoes the voice of humility, as the Ford Freedom Honor award presented posthumously, recognized Johnny Carr. Carr, along with Rosa Parks, orchestrated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She was one of three “Quiet Heroes” honored at the gala, hosted by Channel 7’s Glenda Lewis.

“So for more than 50 years, I’ve been getting in trouble,” said Lewis, while accepting his award. “I’m gonna get in some more trouble, so thank you! Good trouble! Necessary trouble!”

“They’re fearless, diligent trailblazers,” said Congressman John Lewis, “Whose actions impact our communities and our world.”

Lewis spent his moment at the podium thanking icons like Carr, as well as Viola Liuzzo of Michigan, who was honored with the Ford Freedom Humanitarian Award. Liuzzo was killed in 1965 by the Ku Klux Klan while helping African-Americans register to vote.

“Mom would be amazed.” said Luizzo’s daughter Sally Luizzo-Prado. Accepting on behalf of her mother, Luiuzzo-Prado expressed a kind of gratitude several in the audience could relate to.

“I’ve had a life that has been so rich and so full that I would have never lived had Viola Liuzzo not been my mother.” said Luizzo-Prado, “And I am so grateful.” Luizzo-Prado’s words prompted a wave of applause.

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