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The Detroit Branch NAACP recently held their “June Jubilee,” a four-day event during which attendees had the opportunity to participate in a special summit with workshops, the unveiling of a life-like statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Hart Plaza, a commemorative freedom walk through the city, and more. The long weekend of activities culminated with the 68th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, of which Ilitch Companies CEO Chris Ilitch served as Senior Corporate Chair.

With more than 4,000 guests at Detroit’s Huntington Place, the Detroit Branch NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner is considered the largest sit-down dinner in the world. This year’s event featured keynote speaker Sen. Raphael Warnock and awardee Ambassador Andrew Young. The event was followed by a President’s Reception held at the Fox Theatre. 

Chris Ilitch’s role as Senior Corporate Chair continues a decades-long partnership between the NAACP and the Ilitch Companies. The late Mike Ilitch served in the position of Senior Corporate Chair in 1989, the same year he and his wife Marian Ilitch moved Little Caesars headquarters to the Fox Theatre Building. In 1990, Little Caesars Enterprises was named a lifetime member of the NAACP. Earlier this year, Chris Ilitch officially accepted the gavel from outgoing Senior Corporate Chair Gary Torgow, chairman of Huntington National Bank. 

“A devotion to the city and to creating opportunity for Detroiters continues to guide me and our company’s mission,” said Chris Ilitch. “I am grateful to join the Detroit Branch NAACP in its important work to support our hometown and its residents.”

A highlight of this year’s “June Jubilee” weekend was the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Walk. In 1963, in a precursor to the March on Washington, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led more than 100,000 marchers down Woodward Avenue for a rally in Hart Plaza, where he delivered the first version of his “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Chris Ilitch joined Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other dignitaries to lead this year’s walk. Enthusiastic attendees, including Ilitch Companies colleagues, also participated. 

“I’m grateful to our many colleagues who worked together to support this cause, including the Freedom Walk activities, placing Detroit Branch NAACP information on our venue marquees and on Little Caesars pizza box tops, and attending the Freedom Fund Dinner at Huntington Place,” Chris Ilitch said.

All guests at the Freedom Fund dinner were gifted a poster of a painting by Detroit artist Sydney James. The painting, commissioned by Ilitch Companies for the Detroit Branch NAACP, is called “Remember the Time,” and depicts the artist’s mother who took part in the 1963 march in Detroit. The original artwork was presented as a gift to the Detroit Branch NAACP at a dinner committee meeting held at Comerica Park prior to the weekend’s events. The artwork will be hung in the NAACP’s offices.

“We want to thank the Ilitch team, who has really stepped up to be a significant part of the 68th annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner for the NAACP,” said Dr. Reverend Wendall Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP.

Throughout the year, Ilitch Companies have supported various NAACP events, including a Career Day and Youth Summit, which exemplifies their partnership rooted in the common belief of creating opportunities for Detroiters through employment, economic inclusion, and education. 

To see highlights from the weekend, watch this video: