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.”
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.”
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.”