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DaimlerChrysler Donates to Charities Honoring Gordon Parks

March 17, 2003

Two public schools with curricula that focus on thearts, literature and photography, will benefit from the DaimlerChrysler"Behind the Lens" Award that was presented this week to noted photographerand filmmaker, Gordon Parks. Parks received the award in recognition ofhis significant contributions behind the scenes in the entertainmentindustry, according to the company.The award included a $25,000 donation from the DaimlerChrysler CorporationFund that will be shared by two schools named in honor of the legendaryartist - - The Gordon Parks Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, andGordon Parks Academy in East Orange, New Jersey. Both schools exemplifyParks' passion for teaching and learning."I am very grateful to DaimlerChrysler to receive the 'Behind the Lens'Award," said Parks from his home in New York. "It is high on my list ofachievements."The "Behind the Lens" Award was created in 2002 by DaimlerChrysler torecognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals whowork behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Award recipients arechosen by an advisory panel of entertainment professionals."This award celebrates the trailblazers that we don't often see, but whosecontributions are impacting practically every segment of the entertainmentindustry," said Frank Fountain, Chrysler Group senior vicepresident--Government Affairs and President of the DaimlerChryslerCorporation Fund.Fountain compared the 'behind the lens' professionals to individualsworking in the automotive industry. "At DaimlerChrysler, we feel a realcloseness to the concept of this award because, as in film and television,we are fortunate to have the contributions of so many incredibly talentedpeople - - engineers, accountants, production workers and so many more - -whom the public rarely gets an opportunity to see."During pre-taped acceptance remarks, Parks offered a message to filmmakers."I would like to say to the young directors and filmmakers -- you are doinga great job and continue to do so, don't let anyone tell you different, nomatter their position in the studio. I did it my way and I've enjoyedsuccess that I can appreciate."Parks, 90, boasts several "firsts" in his career. He was the first AfricanAmerican to write, direct, and produce a film for a major motion picturecompany. The film, The Learning Tree, was among 25 films placed on theNational Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1989. Parks' place infilm history was further solidified when he directed the hit movie Shaft in1971.Parks also published 12 books, including three autobiographies. Hecomposed orchestral music and film scores and wrote a ballet about Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the first African-American photographer towork at LIFE and Vogue magazines.During the awards program, the audience viewed excerpts from the HBOdocumentary "Half Past Autumn" about Parks' life and career. A livecelebrity panel followed featuring Richard Roundtree, Sheila Frazier, ArtEvans, Ernie Hudson and Roger E. Mosley. The actors discussed Parks'influence on their individual careers as well as his impact on theirperformances in films ranging from The Learning Tree to Shaft and Superfly.Parks did not attend the ceremony due to his health. However, stage, filmand television actor Avery Brooks accepted the "Behind the Lens" award onhis behalf. Also, international recording artist Natalie Cole's musicaltribute to Parks - - "I'm Glad There Is You" - - brought the audience ofnearly 400 to its feet.Chrysler Brand Sponsor NAACP Image AwardsIn conjunction with the "Behind the Lens" Award ceremony, DaimlerChrysleralso sponsored the taping of the 34th Annual NAACP Image Awards that willair Thursday, March 13, on the FOX network. The Image Awards honorsindividuals who have contributed to the positive portrayal of AfricanAmericans and other minorities in the entertainment industry.For the past several years, DaimlerChrysler has been a major sponsor of theImage Awards. However, this year marks the first time that the Chryslerbrand was named as a co-national sponsor. The event provided a platform toshowcase Chrysler products such as the Sebring, PT Cruiser and the all-newChrysler Pacifica.
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