PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia and Welcome America, Inc. are proud to announce that First Lady Jill Biden will be joining the annual Celebration of Freedom Ceremony.
With Independence Hall as the event’s backdrop, the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony celebrates the Fourth of July and observes the evolving history of America’s freedom. The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Independence Square, located on the south side of Independence Hall, and feature performances by The Philly POPS and new soulful R&B artist Saleka. In addition, an abbreviated reading of the Declaration of Independence will include Marley Dias—a purpose-driven 16-year-old who founded 1000 Black Girl Books and is the youngest recipient of Forbes 30 Under 30 among other honors—as well as homegrown performing artist Cam Anthony who recently was named the winner of the 2021 season of NBC’s hit show The Voice.
The Wawa Foundation Hero Award will also be presented to a local nonprofit organization, and the Celebrate Freedom Award presented by Freedom Mortgage will be presented to a U.S. military veteran or frontline worker chosen from entries across the nation. This event is produced by the Office of the City Representative in partnership with Welcome America, Inc. and presented by Freedom Mortgage and supported by VISIT PHILADELPHIA®.
The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and available on a first come first served basis. The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony will also be broadcast on NBC10 & TeleXitos at 6-7 p.m., as well as available on NBCphiladelphia.com.
Philadelphia Magis Award
Each year, Mayor Jim Kenney awards the Philadelphia Magis Award at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony on July Fourth. The Latin word Magis roughly translates into “the more universal good,” and the City of Philadelphia honor is awarded to a person or an organization that does and achieves more. This year, Dr. Ala Stanford will accept the award on behalf of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.
The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium identified the need for advocacy and action for Black and Brown communities who were contracting COVID-19 and dying at greater rates than other Philadelphians. The Consortium created a mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination operation in Philadelphia, with strong data to support their model: after passing the 25,000 dose mark in mid-March providing vaccines, the Consortium reported that 82 percent of those served were people of color, with 75 percent being African Americans, compared to the citywide vaccinations during the same time that were distributed to 24 percent African Americans. The effectiveness of their testing and vaccination efforts has greatly benefitted Philadelphia residents and has led to national media attention as the leader in this model of service provision. With the help of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, FEMA, our City’s Public Health Department and many other partner organizations, Philadelphia has exceeded President Biden’s ambitious goal for 70 percent of adults who got at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by July 4.
Wawa Foundation Hero Award
The Wawa Foundation Hero Award honors a non-profit organization and its volunteers serving Philadelphia by providing services that build stronger communities through preserving our independence, protecting our safety and mentoring and inspiring our youth.
After receiving more than 300 submissions, The Wawa Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded to support Wawa’s charitable giving and philanthropic activities, selected the 2021 finalists. The four finalists are: 1) ABC Men, Inc. 2) The Garces Foundation 3) Police Athletic League of Philadelphia 4) The Veterans Group. Voting was open to the public and the winner will be announced at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony. The recipient of The Wawa Foundation Hero Award will receive a $50,000 grant, and the three runners up will each receive $10,000 grants.
Freedom Mortgage Celebrate Freedom Award
Freedom Mortgage will present the Celebrate Freedom Award, a $10,000 check to a U.S. service member, veteran, first-responder or healthcare worker who serves our nation – and a trip to Philadelphia to attend the Welcome America Festival. Earlier this year, a nationwide contest drew submissions from nearly 1,000 entrants who shared stories about their patriotism and heroism. On behalf of the first 600 contest entries submitted, Freedom Mortgage also donated $3,000 to Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization.