Black Men Find The Power Of Their Voices At Black Men XCEL Summit

A host of businessmen, authors and others attended the top conference for the professional development of Black men.
NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill speaks at the Black Men XCEL Summit.
NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill speaks at the Black Men XCEL Summit.
Black Enterprise

There aren鈥檛 many spaces for Black men to come together and share fellowship as professionals. Alfred Edmond Jr. saw there was a need and spearheaded the creation of the Black Men XCEL Summit.

The Black Men XCEL Summit is, on paper, a corporate and development opportunity for Black men. However, the event is much more 鈥 serving as a space for Black men to open up, be their true selves, and learn from one another.

鈥淲e found out from a variety of channels that nothing like this really existed,鈥 Edmond Jr., senior vice president at the finance publication Black Enterprise, told HuffPost. He explained that the event was inspired by the Women of Power Summit, a leadership conference tailored for executive women of color.

鈥淲e kept saying, man, we need something like this,鈥 he said. 鈥淲e needed something that celebrates us. That sees us as a solution 鈥 as problem solvers and not problem bringers.鈥

The Black Men XCEL Summit is hosted by Black Enterprise, which bills itself as the 鈥減remier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans鈥 since entrepreneur Earl Graves founded the magazine in 1970. This is the sixth year for the conference, which returned to an in-person event after going virtual the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the event鈥檚 first in-person conference since Graves鈥 death in 2020.

The three-day event 鈥 which took place at National Harbor, Maryland, and was sponsored by FedEx 鈥 saw authors, entrepreneurs, executives of Fortune 500 companies and others participate in engaging panel discussions (like 鈥淎 Seat at the Table: Getting on Corporate Boards鈥), fireside chats and workshops.

The conference also presented the XCEL Awards, which honor excellence across several fields, including business and technology. This year鈥檚 honorees included former NBA player Grant Hill, former CEO of Carnival Corp. Arnold W. Donald and civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

The convention included novelties such as a place for attendees to get haircuts. But a major focus of the event is connecting Black men directly with corporate America鈥檚 leaders and stakeholders 鈥 particularly, those who are in hiring positions or know someone who is.

鈥淚f you鈥檙e really serious about equity inside your organizations, and getting back more Black men in leadership positions in your company and corporate boards, then you should be sending executives or your talent to an event like this because this will produce results that are different from 鈥業 removed a racist logo from my product,鈥欌 Edmond Jr. said.

Authors Jay Barnett and Shawn Dove speak at the authors roundtable.
Authors Jay Barnett and Shawn Dove speak at the authors roundtable.
Gerard H. Gaskin for Black Enterprise

But, according to the event鈥檚 attendees, the benefits of the workshop go beyond networking.

Jay Barnett, a former professional football player who is now a licensed therapist and author, participated in the authors roundtable. 鈥淥ftentimes as men, there鈥檚 always this battle to show our masculinity. But when you see us in these spaces, we don鈥檛 have to state the obvious 鈥 we鈥檙e all men,鈥 Barnett explained. 鈥淔or brothers to see other brothers being loved on, supported, and celebrated 鈥 that鈥檚 what this event is all about.鈥

Shawn Dove, author and founder of the Corporation for Black Male Achievement, concurred. 鈥淏lack men want and need the same things everybody else wants and needs,鈥 Dove said.

鈥淭hat鈥檚 love, safety and belonging,鈥 he added. 鈥淭his gathering, for me, provides exactly that.鈥

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