The Black Men XCEL Summit has officially kicked off! This inaugural multi-day celebration of enlightenment, empowerment, and excellence is being held at the
PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Aug. 30–Sept. 3rd, 2017 and is sponsored by FedEx.
Bookmark www.blackenterprise.com/event/black-men-xcel-summit-daily-rundown for a daily recap of all the incredible video, images, and details of this exciting event celebrating black men.
XCEL Day 1 Recap:
Rep. John Lewis, Robert Townsend, John Rogers Jr. and More Honored at BE’s Black Men XCEL Summit
(Image: Robert Townsend, Rep. John Lewis, Lonnie G. Bunch, and John W. Rogers)
Black Enterprise kicked off the inaugural Black Men XCEL Summit on Wednesday with an evening of inspiration that recognized the extraordinary achievements of four trailblazers who have made an immense impact in their respective fields of work and the world: Hon. Congressman John Lewis, award-winning filmmaker Robert Townsend, historian Lonnie Bunch, and business leader John W. Rogers.
The night began with a warm welcome reception held at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Attendees mixed and mingled while showing off their finest red-carpet attire.
(Image: Attendees at the Black Men XCEL summit)
They were then escorted into the PGA ballroom for the first inaugural Black Men XCEL Summit Awards, sponsored by AT&T. During his opening remarks, Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. emphasized the importance of uplifting black men while elevating the legacy of Black Enterprise, which has been a premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans since 1970.
Each honoree was recognized for their achievements, influence, impact, and leadership, which has helped open doors of opportunity and present an inspiring example of success for others, especially men of color.
John W. Rogers Jr.
During his acceptance speech, John W. Rogers Jr., chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, talked about the role Black Enterprise played in inspiring his journey in entrepreneurship.
“I can remember in those early years, as I was getting started and leaving college, getting going as a stock broker, I couldn’t wait for Black Enterprise magazine to come out every month. It was really that kind of publication that made it seem like everything was possible as a young African American in business,” said Rogers. “It was all about empowering us.”
Lonnie G. Bunch III
Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the author of more than a dozen books on history, race, and museum scholarship, said he accepted the award on behalf of the black men who came before him, and the “men who were called boys, but they were called boys so that we could be called congressmen, CEO, president.”
Townsend, an award-winning actor, director, and comedian, said the negative portrayal of African Americans in Hollywood inspired him to become a filmmaker. He also announced plans to bring his classic movie “The Five Heartbeats” to Broadway. He ended his speech by pressing black men to continue to fight for equality.
“With everything going on in the world, we as men of color need to fight harder than ever,” he said. “We must band together like never before, and fight harder and fight together, and understand that the work is not done.”
Rep. John Lewis
While sharing the stage with Earl G. Graves Sr., Lewis humbly thanked him for “seeing fit to honor a poor boy from rural Alabama.” He ended his acceptance speech telling people of color not to become complacent by the progress that has been made and to instead continue to fight for equality.
“When we see something that is not right, not fair, not justice, we have a moral obligation to speak up and to speak out. Earl, and the family of Black Enterprise, thank you for speaking up. Thank you for leading the way.”
The celebration of black men will continue until Sunday with golf tournaments, luxurious spa experiences, a Mars vs. Venus trivia competition, a celebrity chef cook-off, and live music and comedy. You can follow along on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #BMXCEL.