Black Men XCEL: Our Movement To Advance Black Men

Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprise

A major part of Black Enterprise’s mission has been exposing our audience and the world to the major accomplishments of African Americans across an array of disciplines and sectors as well as breaking stereotypes that serve to diminish, degrade, or demonize people of color. Now, more than ever, we enthusiastically embrace our responsibility to showcase African American success and create platforms to foster the continuation of notable achievements.

I beam with pride at the progression of our ever-expanding Women of Power Summit. We have designed a business leadership conference in which we have provided attendees, for 13 years, strategies and tools to ascend within the corporate workplace and reach their professional best. It also represents a safe haven for authentic sisterhood and continuous cultivation of mentor-protégé relationships and invaluable support systems. As such, we have been inspired by the exemplary recipients of our Legacy Award who have blazed trails to open doors for generations of African American female professionals as well as waves of attendees who have left our event with renewed purpose and confidence to meet today’s challenges.

Creating a platform that encourages African American exceptionalism applies to our latest event, Black Men XCEL: Celebrating the Best of Who We Are, which will take place Aug. 29–Sept. 2 at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In its second year, Black Men XCEL—affectionately known as BMX—is unlike any other event that focuses on the unique status of black males. We don’t bemoan the problems nor apologize for our existence. We offer the ultimate reality check by convening close to 1,000 attendees to recognize the excellence and leadership of black men as they seek to rise to the next level of professional mastery, financial empowerment, and societal service. Moreover, the men and women assembled at BMX clearly demonstrate the fact that black men and their influence and impact on our institutions, businesses, and communities—here and abroad—are most deserving of recognition and replication.

A recent CNN report confirmed what we have known all along— multitudes of black men thrive in America. It revealed that many Americans still believe that “crime, unemployment, and poverty are endemic among African American men” despite the fact that most black men will not be incarcerated, jobless, or impoverished. In fact, the report found representation of middle- and upper-income African American males grew to 57% today from 38% in 1960. Moreover, Alan Jenkins, executive director of The Opportunity Agenda, was reported as saying negative stereotypes and attitudes of black men largely determine their treatment by police officers and health care providers and assessment of potential from educators and prospective employers. Therefore, it is vital to correct those portrayals and biases so black men can ultimately compete and thrive on a level playing field.

That’s why we created BMX. We believed it was of utmost importance for men and women of color to support black male excellence. Black Enterprise has proudly displayed men of distinction over the past 48 years, profiling top-notch African American executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals before the mainstream even took notice of them. That spirit permeates BMX’s crowning event: the XCEL Awards: An Extraordinary Celebration of Excellence and Leadership, which honors remarkable and, in many cases, historic contributions of black men across myriad fields. This year’s stellar recipients include U.S. Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith, Bishop T.D. Jakes of Potter’s House and T.D. Jakes Enterprises, and General Catalyst Chairman and Managing Director, former American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault, who appropriately will receive the 2018 Earl G. Graves Sr. XCEL Award. They represent inspiring models of integrity and achievement for all, especially our youth. We will also use the event as an opportunity to reveal our newest cohort of BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction, a group nominated by our audience for their exceptional pursuits and commitment to uplifting our communities.

The recognition of these standard-bearers coincides with the expansion of BMX, an unmatched venue for facilitating opportunity, inspiration, and relationship building in a retreat setting. It’s more than a conference—it’s a movement. For us, BMX represents our ultimate expression of passion and commitment to advance African American men.

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.

Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.