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Black Men Share Their Voices at Black Men XCEL Summit

Alfred Edmond Jr. saw that there needed to be a platform for Black professionals to share their voices and fellowship.

So, he spearheaded the creation of Black Men XCEL Summit six years ago.

The summit is a corporate and development opportunity for Black men. It is also a place for Black men to open up and be their selves.

“We found out from a variety of channels that nothing like this really existed,” Edmond Jr, senior vice president of the finance publication Black Enterprise, said to the Huffpost.

Edmond Jr. said that the event was inspired by the Women of Power Summit – a leadership conference for executive women of color.

“We kept saying, man, we need something like this,” Edmond jr. said. “We need something that celebrates us. That sees us as a solution – as problem solvers and not problem bringers.”

Billing itself as the “premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans," the Black Men XCEL Summit is hosted by Black Enterprise, which was founded by Earl Graves in 1970.

The conference returned to an in-person event after going virtual the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year was the first in-person conference since Graves passed away in 2020.

Sponsored by FedEx, the three-day event at the National Harbor in Maryland had authors, entrepreneurs, executives and others participate in engaging panel discussions, fireside chats and workshops.

The summit presented XCEL Awards across several fields, including business and technology. This year’s recipients included NBA player Grant Hill, former CEO of Carnival Corp Arnold W. Donald and civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

Additionally, the convention had novelties such as a barbershop.

Still, the primary focus was connecting Black men with the nation’s leaders and stakeholders, specifically those in hiring positions or those who know someone who is.

“If you’re 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 our talent to an event like this because this will produce results that are different from ‘I removed a racist logo from my product,’” Edmond Jr. said.

One event attendee said there is more to the summit than networking.

Former professional football player turned licensed therapist and author, Jay Burnett, said in a roundtable discussion that Black men abide by societal standards.

“Oftentimes as men, there’s always this battle to show our masculinity. But when you see us in these spaces, we don’t have to state the obvious – we’re all men,” Barnett said. “For brothers to see other brothers being loved on, supported, and celebrated … That’s what this event is all about.”

Photo Credit: Black Enterprise


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