Michigan Chronicle’s distinguished Men of Excellence Class of 2021 awardees.
Photo by Monica Morgan
Each year, the Michigan Chronicle takes immeasurable pride in recognizing African American men in the community who inspire others through their visionary work in Detroit and beyond across all facets of the professional spectrum.
The 2021 Men of Excellence class was inducted this past Thursday at the 13th annual Men of Excellence Award ceremony in Detroit and honored local men who uplift others through their vision, leadership, notable achievements, and admirable interest in community service.
The ceremony recognizes men who exemplify integrity while setting the standard for professionalism and passion in their local community. This year’s event marks the in-return ceremony since COVID-19.
Hiram E. Jackson, a publisher of Michigan Chronicle and chief executive officer of Real Times Media (RTM), said that the men were exemplary during the live event in Detroit.
“I feel the love for these 50 amazing brothers,” Jackson said, adding that he feels that he has the best job in the world of promoting positive Black culture and recognizing greatness, which doesn’t always happen even though well-deserved. “The Michigan Chronicle is here to tell you we see you; we know what you been through.”
Five special awardees were recognized, including former Mayor Dave Bing, the O’Neil Swanson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
Jackson, inspired by Swanson’s leadership, said that the company named the Lifetime Achievement Award after him, knowing that whoever receives this award has created a lasting legacy. Their impact can still be seen and felt in the city today.
Terrence Hicks, managing principal at Metro Strategies, said that being an honoree was an honor that was a surprise.
“I feel extremely blessed,” Hicks said during videotaping for the Men of Excellence. “I didn’t see it coming.”
Coleman Young, II, a Detroit City Councilman, “feels blessed to be a part of a growing distinguished class of gentlemen recognized for their work.”
Men of Excellence Vanguard Awardees include Kirk Mayes, Forgotten Harvest CEO, Gerald Johnson, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability at General Motors, Bishop John Drew Sheard, chief prelate, and chief apostle of the Church of God in Christ.
Mayes charged his fellow honorees with leaning into each other and connecting by building relationships and “fix problems ailing our people.”
He added that the same way other great people inspired the Men of Excellence before them, others coming after them would be motivated by their works, and it’s their job to lead them toward a better path.
“Go tell somebody what it took to be excellent; what it took to be Black and excellent,” he said of drawing out greatness from others.
The Man of the Year Award was given to Ray Curry, United Auto Workers (UAW) president.
Curry, a tireless supporter of civil and human rights, joined the UAW in 1992 (later being elected president in 2021) and held numerous positions before taking the top position. The North Carolina native and military veteran is known for his servant leadership roles and for being instrumental in implementing broad financial ethics reforms.
“I stand on the shoulders of a woman,” Curry said of being raised by a single parent who raised him to be prepared for the next step in life. “I congratulate the 50 Men of Excellence. … You’re inspiring someone… to achieve.”
Congratulations, 2021 Men of Excellence!