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Bishop T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Chenault and Tommie Smith Among XCEL Award Honorees

BLACK ENTERPRISE will present its highest honor in recognition of the achievements of black men when it presents the XCEL Awards at the 2018 Black Men XCEL Summit on Aug. 29, 2018, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Black Men XCEL Summit celebrates the achievements of today’s black men. The Summit, which offers executive development and leadership for men of color, annually attracts more than 800 corporate executives, professionals, and businessmen and women from across the country. The Summit, hosted by FedEx, will take place Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at the PGA National Resort & Spa.

The XCEL Awards recognize outstanding impact, achievement, and leadership by men in business, the arts, education, government, and other influential areas. Past XCEL Award recipients include luminaries such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis; award-winning actor Robert Townsend; historian, author, curator and Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie G. Bunch; and Ariel Investments Founder and CEO John Rogers.

Honorees to be recognized at the 2018 Black Men XCEL Awards Dinner, include the following outstanding achievers:

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinker, and entrepreneur who serves as senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church located in Dallas. Named “America’s Best Preacher” by Time Magazine and CNN, Jakes’ voice reverberates from the world’s most prominent stages from the White House to the Aspen Institute to Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. A new model for the 21st-century Renaissance man, Jakes is a committed philanthropist who gives back on an ongoing basis to the communities that he serves worldwide. As a business leader, his media and entertainment empire spans film, television, radio, music and best-selling books.

Kenneth Chenault, spent the past 17 years steering American Express into profits. Referred by billionaire investor Warren Buffett as “the gold standard for corporate leadership”, Chenault currently serves on the boards of Facebook, Airbnb, and as chairman and managing director of General Catalyst. Chenault is the first black person to serve on Facebook’s board of directors. Chenault joined American Express in 1981. Under his leadership, American Express built one of the world’s largest customer loyalty programs – Membership Rewards – and earned global recognition as a leader in customer service. He launched lucrative corporate partnerships with companies including Delta Airlines. In 1997, Chenault was named president and chief operating officer of American Express. He was named CEO in 2001—becoming one of the first African Americans to lead a Fortune 500 company.

Tommie Smith, during the historical 19th Olympiad in Mexico City in the summer of 1968, Tommie Smith broke the world and Olympic record with a time of 19.83 seconds and became the 200-meter Olympic champion. As “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in the wind at the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games, Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the victory podium, draped with their Olympic medals, each raised a clenched fist covered in a black leather glove in a historic stand for black power, liberation, and solidarity. This courageous, unexpected worldwide event propelled Tommie Smith into the spotlight as a human rights spokesman, activist, and symbol of African American pride.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to pay well-deserved honor to men who are gifts to the world,” says BLACK ENTERPRISE President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. “Their examples are a proper tribute and powerful motivation to the XCEL Award honorees to come.”

The Black Men XCEL Summit has also partnered with the That Suits You and FedEx to collect men’s professional wear from the Summit attendees and donate hundreds of articles of clothing to help disadvantaged black men and men reentering the workforce. Attendees can donate their gently-used professional clothing, including men’s suits, ties, jackets, pants, and belts.

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Black Men XCEL will host more than 800 men and women attendees who will engage in development sessions and activities designed to train, equip, and encourage leadership. Topics will include The CEO Pipeline: Grooming Black Men for Corporate Leadership; You OK, Brother? Making Our Mental Health a Priority; Black Men in Television and Film, and more. Confirmed speakers include actor, writer, and producer Chris Spencer; Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ed Gordon; actor Malik Yoba; psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor, and many more.

The 2018 Black Men XCEL Summit is hosted by FedEx, with platinum sponsor, AT&T, Georgia-Pacific, Prudential and Koch. Corporate sponsors, Accenture, Carnival, Dell, Discover Palm Beaches, JPMorgan Chase and Co., and Walmart. To register for the Black Men XCEL Summit or for more information, visit You can also search #BMXCEL for additional updates and information about the Summit on social media.

BLACK ENTERPRISE, your ultimate source to build Wealth for Life, is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, be has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine provides 4 million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. A multimedia company, be also produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content, and digital media.

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