Inaugural ceremony celebrates men of color

A few excellent men: From left, K.C. The Prince of Soul, DJ Hollywood, Malcolm McDaniel, and DJ Barry Blends, holding their Men of Excellence award, at the inaugural ceremony on Sept. 17 in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Alonzo Boldin

Hardworking men of color were celebrated in high style at a ceremony awarding and honoring men for their achievements on Sept. 17.

Some 200 women and men packed Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant for the inaugural Men of Excellence ceremony. The event — aimed to honor the hardworking and under-appreciated men of color in the community — awarded politicians, community leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs and fashion designers. For many who attended, it was a chance to see the inspiring men making moves in their communities, said one honoree.

“Something like this is really needed — to recognize those trying to make a difference in the world,” said Romel Brewster, fashion designer and an honoree. “We have to be the change we want, and the awards really highlight and put a spotlight on individuals making those changes.”

Bob Tate, left, and state Sen. Bill Perkins.
Alonzo Boldin

About 35 men, young and old, were awarded with Men of Excellence plaques. The ceremony fundraised for the J. Love School of Etiquette, a modeling agency for children.

Planners for the ceremony organized the event to counter a negative perception attached to men of color and to show them that they are appreciated.

“Often our Hispanic and African-American men are demonized,” said Linda Cocochyna Ford. “There is another side of African-American life that isn’t publicized and celebrated, and those are the men who are not looking for recognition — men of excellence.”

Men of the night: From left, Prince Azk Adekoya II and founder of New Day Associates, John Blassingame, posing with Blassingame’s award celebrating men of color.
Alonzo Boldin

Brewster says being in the presence of men he also looks up to, given the climate of police brutality — was an inspirational moment that will keep him motivated.

“It was a good event — the ambiance was nice,” said Brewster. “Acknowledgement is what I liked about it. Acknowledging those who came before me, shows a transition and it shows me a path.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.
Councilman Robert E. Cornegy Jr., center, stands with other honorees and organizers of the ceremony.
Alonzo Boldin

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