Last week the Ford Motor Company announced that it will donate $1 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services president, Jim Vella, noted that the company’s “groundbreaking $5 a day wage in 1913 … paid people equally regardless of race.”
The automaker has a long history of helping African-Americans. “By 1926, [Ford] had hired more than 10,000 African-Americans, making it the largest employer of African-Americans in the auto industry. By 1931, 20 percent of Detroit’s African-American population was supported by Ford jobs,” said founding director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Lonnie G. Bunch III.
The museum was established by an act of Congress in 2003 with half of its $500 million cost being funded by Congress. The museum is slated to open in 2016 but is currently presenting exhibitions at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Over the last 40 years, Ford has donated more than $11.5 million to support Smithsonian museums, helping fund such projects as the National Zoo’s Giant Panda research and the Smithsonian Freedom’s Sisters, an exhibit that “celebrated 20 African-American women who fought for equality for all Americans and traveled to 12 cities from 2007 to 2012,” as well as others.