Why We Celebrate Men of Excellence

Hiram E. Jackson, Publisher, Michigan Chronicle

Each year, the Michigan Chronicle takes great pride in recognizing African American men in our community who inspire others through excellence, vision, leadership, exceptional achievements, and a vast commitment to empower in a multiplicity of ways.  We are proud of the achievements of African American men in Detroit and beyond who are doing many wonderful things across broad spectrums of society. 

Yet, African American men are often maligned by mainstream media outlets and many sectors of other races and nationalities.  These outlets and sectors far too often come to conclusions about black men that are not accurate, often painting negative images and writing false narratives of black people in general, and black men in particular.   Such flawed findings often conclude that black men are associated with crime, unemployment, and live in poverty.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth is that most black men will not be incarcerated, are not unemployed, and are not poor. 

Therefore, almost 13 years ago, I wanted to find a way to highlight African American men’s magnificent stories, accomplishments and achievements that were happening right here in Metro Detroit.  It was with this mindset that the Michigan Chronicle created and annually presents the Men of Excellence (MOE) Awards ceremony spotlighting African American men in greater Detroit.  These men defined excellence in various walks of life, including community, civic, business/entrepreneurship, religion, law, politics/government, education, entertainment, and other areas. 

I remember our first MOE, when we honored 50 extraordinary black men.  Believe it or not, there were people – and I won’t mention names – who thought we would run out of African American men to honor.  However, with the 600-plus men that we’ve honored since the inception of MOE, I can honestly say that we’ve just scratched the surface of black excellence among our males. There’s more – a whole lot more to honor! 

During my extensive travels throughout all areas of Detroit, I see strong black men of excellence working in various fields for the betterment of themselves, their families, their communities, and their careers.  Of course, there are some black men mired in the stereotypes that are often placed on our race.  Nevertheless, I see that things are getting better on multiple fronts in the black community.  Yet, more has to be done.  And we, as black men, must lead the way, first by not listening to bias reports and surveys, such as we live in poverty, because poverty among black men has fallen from 41 percent in 1960 to 18 percent today.  And, black men in the middle or upper class – as measured by their family income – have risen from 38 percent in 1960 to 57 percent today.  Again, I say, more must be done. 

Numbers matter, but empirical and visual facts are vitally and equally important.  This means there are many black men who are factually doing excellent things in every sector of this city.  And that’s what MOE is all about.  It’s highlighting and spotlighting black men who exemplify excellence in many ways.  And trust me, there’s no shortage of black men that meet the criteria and definition of excellence in this city, county, state or nation.  

And speaking of excellence, at the upcoming MOE Awards ceremony, the Michigan Chronicle will present its Vanguard Award to four African American men who have done, and continue to do excellent things in Detroit and beyond.  They are Dennis Archer, Eric Sabree, Tony Saunders, and Sylvester Hester.  Judge Greg Mathis, another man of excellence, will deliver the event’s Keynote Address.  

Therefore, I invite you to help the Michigan Chronicle honor this year’s 50 new Men of Excellence.  The 2019 MOE Awards ceremony will be held on Friday, August 2 (6:00 p.m. reception, 7:00 p.m. awards program) at the Motor City Casino Hotel in downtown Detroit. 

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