This past Saturday, 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc. held its 22nd Annual Awards Benefit and Gala. The steadfast efforts to uplift the next generation of Black men through mentorship and education was celebrated that evening.
100 Black Men of Chicago launched in 1994 with the goal of improving the quality of life and to enhance educational opportunities for young African-American males throughout the Greater Chicagoland area. With the standing mantra, “What they see is what they’ll be,” the organization, with volunteers and community partners, provides on-going educational training programs, mentoring, tutoring, student scholarships and economic empowerment seminars.
The national organization 100 Black Men of America originated in 1963 in New York City.
Held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E Wacker Dr., six honorees received acknowledgment, 17 high school seniors were applauded for their participation in various programs and four scholarships from corporate sponsors were awarded.
100 Black Men of Chicago board chairman Carl H. Tutt Jr. said the evening was the culmination of their mentoring year, which spans from September to June. He said future generations will benefit from the work the organization is doing today.
“We know we need Black males to build up their families, and the more we can help them grow and to be good members of society, the better everybody’s going to be,” Tutt said.
Tutt explained the honorees were selected based on their contributions to mentoring, health and wellness, education and economic empowerment. Those recognized this year were CineCares Foundation executive director Sheila Brown; The Safer Foundation president and chief executive officer Victor Dickson; Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network senior advisor Jack Lynch; retired three-time NBA champion Nazr Mohammed; Cinespace Chicago Film Studios president and CineCares Foundation president of the board Alexander Pissios; and Nicor Gas president Melvin Williams.
The four scholarship recipients were Cydnei Quinn, Brett Harris, Christopher Collins and Ryan C. Clark.
The 2019 Gala chairman, Manny Strong, said one of the goals for the evening was to raise $100,000. He said nearly $70,000 was raised last year.
Strong estimated that 200 teens were mentored this year and explained that mentoring sites are located on Chicago’s South Side and its western suburbs, among other locations. He said the mentors, who were all thoroughly vetted, come from a variety of professions, including doctors, lawyers and plumbers.
Isiah Drakes, 15, was one of several mentees of 100 Black Men of Chicago who volunteered at the event as an usher. He said he first learned of the organization through a friend who attended a few events and eventually decided to join himself. So far, the organization has helped him prepare for college and draft job resumes, he said.
Looking ahead, 100 Black Men of Chicago will be even more present in various city-wide conversations as part of the organization’s growth and expansion, Tutt explained.
“In past years, you know, we wouldn’t talk about 100 Black Men of Chicago because we weren’t talking about our story. Now we need to talk about our story because the community is asking for us to be out there in the community,” he said. “And so, we have to be more visible, we have to be more involved not just in the community, but on the public policy side as well and give our opinion on that. And talk about if there’s things that we can do better to support the communities that we serve.”
For more information about 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc., visit https://100bmc.org.