African American News

Civil Rights Legend John Lewis and Groundbreaking Filmmaker Robert Townsend Among Inaugural XCEL Award Honorees

NEW YORK, July 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — BLACK ENTERPRISE will host its inaugural Black Men XCEL Summit Wednesday, Aug. 30 through Sunday, Sept. 3, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. This bold, festive, and exciting event was developed to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of today’s black men.

The crown jewel of Black Men XCEL, The XCEL Awards: An Extraordinary Celebration of Excellence and Leadership, will recognize iconic black men in every field of endeavor—from corporate America, to the entertainment industry, science and technology, athletics and sports, the education sector, and beyond. The XCEL Awards Dinner will kick off several days of inspiration, activities, and fun, including golf, tennis, luxurious spa amenities, live music and comedy, post-event parties, and more, to create the ultimate end-of-summer getaway experience.

Honorees to be recognized at the 2017 Black Men XCEL Awards Dinner, hosted by AT&T, include the following outstanding achievers:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (Earl G. Graves Award) – Often called “One of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced,” Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. The youngest of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement at the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington. Lewis will receive the inaugural Earl G. Graves Award, named for BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine Founder and Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr.

Robert Townsend – He started out as an extra in movies and has since become a heralded actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, and cable network programming CEO. Without formal film education or outside funding, Townsend co-wrote, directed, produced, and starred in his first film, Hollywood Shuffle.

Lonnie G. Bunch III – Historian, author, curator and educator, Lonnie G. Bunch III is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As a public historian, a scholar who brings history to the people, Bunch has spent nearly 30 years in the museum field where he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading figures in the historical and museum community.

John W. Rogers Jr. – Ariel Investments Founder and CEO John Roger’s passion for investing began at age 12, when his father began buying him stocks as Christmas and birthday gifts. In 1983, Rogers founded Ariel Investments which has grown to become the largest minority-run mutual funds firm in the U.S., ranked No. 1 on BLACK ENTERPRISE’s list of the largest black-owned asset managers.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to pay well-deserved honor to men who are gifts to the world,” says BLACK ENTERPRISE President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. “Their examples are proper tribute and powerful motivation to the XCEL Award honorees to come.”

In addition to the XCEL Awards, Black Men XCEL will also recognize those featured as men of distinction by the BE Modern Man digital campaign launched by in 2015. In addition to celebrating all of the BE Modern Men in attendance, the first ever BE Modern Man of the Year Award will be presented to Shawn Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement and a member of the 2016 cohort of 100 BE Modern Men of Distinction.

Black Men XCEL will host more than 700 men and women attendees who will engage in development sessions and activities designed to train, equip, and encourage leadership. Topics will include How to Be a Mogul: Building Your Empire; Leading and Succeeding in Corporate America; Replicating Success: How to Scale Models for Mentorship, and more. Confirmed speakers include former CEO of REVOLT and founder and CEO of The Shadow League Keith Clinkscales; actor, writer, and producer Chris Spencer; Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ed Gordon; actor Lamman Rucker; life coach, author, and TV lifestyle personality Dee Marshall, and many more.

To register for the Black Men XCEL Summit or for more information, visit You can also search #BMXCEL for additional updates and information about the Summit on social media.

The 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit is hosted by FedEx, with title sponsors AT&T, Genesis, and Prudential. Corporate sponsors include Carnival, Dell, Discover Palm Beaches, Georgia Pacific, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Walmart.

BLACK ENTERPRISE, your ultimate source to build Wealth for Life, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine provides 6 million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. A multimedia company, BE also produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content, and digital media.


CONTACT: Johann Alleyne-Morris, Phone: 212.886.9598,,

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