DETROIT (WWJ) – Sunday’s 16th Annual Urban Wheel Awards is the Official Multicultural Event of the North American International Auto Show.

The festivities get underway with a reception at Sound Board inside the Motor City Casino-Hotel at 4:00 Sunday afternoon in honor of William “Bill” Perkins, the show’s first African-American chairman. And, Randi Payton, who founded the awards, says while the Big Three have been leaders in diversity initiatives, the awards help promote diversity worldwide.

“I remember a lot of CEOs and presidents from different Asian and European manufacturers would attend the awards and many of ’em hadn’t done anything in terms of employment, supplier, dealer development,” Payton told WWJ Newsradio 950. “But the awards basically promotes competition, not just among the vehicles, but in diversity.”

Proceeds support scholarships and internships for minority college students.

Following the reception for Perkins, there will be a Green Carpet and VIP reception, which will be followed by the awards show.

Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad will co-host the awards, which feature a star-studded line-up of celebrity presenters and musical entertainment, including a performance by local songstress Beth Griffith, daughter of Johnny Griffith, who played keyboards as part of the legendary, Grammy Award-winning Motown band, The Funk Brothers. Beth will sing “Light Up Detroit” accompanied by members of The Citadel of Praise Church Choir.

Founder and organizer Payton adds that “it’s one of the few events that attracts support from almost every major manufacturer, as well as over 40 organizational and media partners representing almost every ethnic group. Not just African-American, Asians and Hispanics, but Native Americans, Arab Americans.”

Click here for ticket information and tune in to WWJ Newsradio 950 on Saturday to hear my reports.

Follow Terri on Twitter @TerriJLee

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