The 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit was a total success! The
inaugural multiday celebration of enlightenment,
empowerment, and excellence was held at the PGA
National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens,
Florida, Aug. 30–Sept. 3, 2017, and sponsored by FedEx.
Here’s a recap of all the incredible video, images, and details
of this exciting event celebrating black men.
Ending The Summit With a Bang
The last and final day of the Black Men XCEL Summit ended with
a bang! Attendees enjoyed a day of fun activities, luxury spa
treatments, an award ceremony celebrating the best golf
players, live entertainment, and an all-white affair.
(Image: 2017 Black Men
(Image: 2017 Black Men
Competitive golfers arose bright and early Saturday morning for
a tournament that began with a 7 a.m. shotgun start. Other
golfers played at their own pace while networking on the greens
during a session of Social Golf, while PGA professionals
schooled beginners on the rules of the game, on-course
etiquette, and skill management at the Golf Academy.
(Image: The Cook-Off
Challenge judges: Adrian Baskin, Business Strategist, FedEx
Express; Yolanda Cook, Chief of
Staff, Black Enterprise; and Ernisha Randolph, President/CEO of
Sweet Butter Restaurant)
During “The Cook-Off” Challenge, teams competed
to recreate a signature dish by a top chef in order to be
crowned as the kitchen masters.
ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith didn’t bite his tongue while
speaking during a candid conversation with former NBA player
Rod Strickland at the BMX Luncheon: Black Men in
Sports: The Good, the Bad, and the Reality. Smith
addressed a wide range of issues in sports and business,
including the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, the
debate over paying student athletes, and the responsibility
that athletes have as role models.
(Image: Rod Strickland,
Alfred Edmond Jr., and Penny Hardaway at the BMX Barbershop
Debate at the 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit)
The XCEL afternoon sessions were light, lively, and fun.
Comedian Jonathan Slocumb hosted the BMX Barbershop Debate,
sponsored by Walmart, where NBA greats Penny Hardaway and Rod
Strickland engaged in spirited discussions about the best
artist of all time, best black movie, and more.
The men and women then went head-to-head in the highly
anticipated Mars vs. Venus Challenge trivia game. The guys
started off with a strong lead, but the ladies closed the
competition with a win.
(Image: Sunset Spa at
the 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit)
Later, attendees took advantage of an opportunity to mix,
mingle, and get pampered at the spa. Meanwhile, a group of
dynamic women held a forum about the importance of financial
planning during the Sunset Spa session sponsored by Prudential.
After getting pampered, Russell Williamson Sr., a healthcare
executive, best-selling author, and speaker, said the relaxing
massage he received was the highlight of the day. “I got a
75-minute deep tissue stress relief massage. The therapist was
outstanding. She was clearly a professional. She totally
relieved my stress as well as forced a lot of those toxins out
of my muscles,” he told Black Enterprise.
“That was my favorite thing today.”
Thornton-Gee, Cheryl Polote-Williamson, and Russell Williamson at
the Sunset Spa)
His wife, Cheryl Polote-Williamson, said the best part of
BMXCEL was seeing the impact that the four-day summit had on
her husband each day. “My highlight was having my husband
go back to the room and tell me the amount of information that
he has gleaned from the different men who have spoken and the
impact that it has made on him.” She added that he was moved
just “to be in the room with a powerful group of men who have
gone through similar things.”
(Image: Guy performs at
the 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit)
Finally, the night ended with a short ceremony to congratulate
top golfers and a throwback concert featuring live performances
by Guy, one of the smoothest R&B groups of the 80s and 90s.
Randy Irving, manager of Human Resources, Diversity and
Inclusion at FedEx, said he was thrilled to
have participated in the Summit and that he looks forward
to fostering more partnerships between Black
Enterprise and FedEx.
“I thought the event this week was really good. It was a good
opportunity to network with black professionals. And all of the
seminars and the panels that they had were very informative,”
Irving told Black Enterprise. “As far as being
the title sponsor, I think it was very much worth our time and
Xcelling to a New Level
Day 3 of the Black Men XCEL Summit was filled with more panels,
empowering sessions, and fun.
Dozens of men and women started their day with another golf
tournament on Friday, sponsored by Genesis, while rookies
took the Beginner Golf Academy, where PGA professionals
helped them perfect their stroke.
Others engaged in an exhilarating power walk and the Zionic
Dance Fitness session, which turns reggae, calypso, soca, and
Latin into a fun cardio and strength training workout.
Later that morning, Dee C. Marshall, a certified coach and
author of Dear Black Man: We Love You, teamed up with
BE Executive Editor-at-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. for a
no-holds-barred conversation about strengthening relationships
between black men and women to foster unity, growth, and love.
The interactive discussion, which was presented by Prudential,
also included real-time, instant polling questions with the
During the BMX Luncheon: Black Men in Hollywood,
actor Lamman Rucker and Jeff Friday, the president of American
Black Film Festival Ventures (ABFF), explored the portrayal of
black men in media and the impact that these images have on
(Image: Ronald C.
Parker, President & CEO, Executive Leadership Council (ELC);
Corey Anthony, SVP–Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer,
AT&T Services, Inc.; and Orlando Ashford, President, Holland
(Image: From L-R: Jonathan B.
Simon, Miles L. Warren III, Malcolm Johnson, Gerald
Owusu, and Daniel Horgan)
The luncheon was followed by two different panels, one focused
on leading and succeeding in corporate America, the other on
the importance of mentorship.
Later, AT&T premiered the critically acclaimed short film,
The Humanity of Connection, which illustrates the long
history of AT&T’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and
its core public affairs objectives that have a major impact in
the African American community. To commemorate their
partnership with the Black Man XCEL Summit, AT&T
commissioned a special version of the Humanity of Connection
specifically focused on the mission of black men, key goals of
the Summit, along with its long history of partnership with
Karlous Miller, Godfrey,
Jonathan Slocumb, and Chris Spencer (Image: File)
The night ended on a high note with jokes and laughter at
The BMX Comedy Jam: Black Jokes Matter!, hosted
by Chris Spencer, the co-creator of BET’s Real
Hollywood. Comedians Jonathan
Slocumb, Karlous Miller, and Godfrey performed
before DJ Nasty led everyone to the dance floor.
Golf, Panels, and Parties
Day 2 of the Black Men XCEL Summit was packed with engaging
panel sessions, a powerful fireside chat with award-winning
filmmaker Robert Townsend, and, of course, great networking
opportunities. Gentlemen were also treated to complimentary
haircuts sponsored by Walmart.
The day began with an early golf tournament, sponsored by
Hungry golfers and attendees then congregated in the PGA
Ballroom for the BMX Luncheon & Awards Fireside Chat, where
Erwin Raphael, the general manager at Genesis Motor America,
opened the ceremony with an inspirational speech. Shawn
Dove, the CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement
(CBMA), was presented with the inaugural BE Modern Man of
the Year Award.
(Image: Robert Townsend
and Alfred Edmond Jr.)
BE Editor-at-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. then moderated an
exclusive chat with legendary actor, director, and comedian
Robert Townsend, whose achievements and contributions have
shattered barriers and changed the world. Townsend also shared
his secrets of success in the business of entertainment.
During the How to be a Mogul: Build Your
Empire session, media mogul, author, and
philanthropist Louis Carr discussed what it takes to build an
empire from scratch. He spoke in depth about what it takes not
only to establish a world-class operation, but to keep it
(Image: Ed Gordon,
Kimatni D. Rawlins, Shawn Dove, and Caron Butler)
Ed Gordon also led an empowering panel discussion about black
fatherhood, titled The Fatherhood Factor: The Master
Key to Black Survival and Success. During the
session, Caron Butler, former NBA Player; Shawn Dove;
and Kimatni D. Rawlins, the founder of Fit Fathers; opened
up about their tactics for good parenting. They emphasized the
need for dads to be openly vulnerable, especially with their
daughters, and to be a consistent father fixture in the lives
of their children.
The night ended with the BMX Good Life Social followed by
a late night Brandies and Cigars networking session.
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
(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
“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
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,
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
“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.