Chicago Defender’s Black Men of Excellence honored in a Special VIP Social Distancing Ceremony

For the past 13 years, the Chicago Defender has honored 50 black men who excel in their careers and give back to their communities. These men not only excel, but they continue to inspire others by their example. Each year, honoring these men continues to dispel the false narrative of black men often seen in mainstream media.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the original award and induction ceremony was postponed. The Chicago Defender developed three events to celebrate this year’s awardees. The first event, an exclusive VIP mixer, was held this past Sunday at the Vault in Blue Island. This event was an opportunity for honorees to pick up their awards, enjoy a special meal, and fellowship with some of their fellow nominees. The event maintained social distancing and gathering guidelines and was hosted in four one-hour-long sessions with no more than ten honorees each session.




  • Freddie B. Arnold, Jr., Manager/Project Estimator, The George Sollitt Construction Company
  • Phillip L. Beckham, III, Exec. Director, Mid-South Business Association & Resource Center
  • Burt Blanchard, Senior Director of Business Development, Mind Your Business
  • Ronald L. Branch, President/Managing Broker, RLB Realty Group Inc.
  • Blanton Canady, Owner/Operator, BTII Inc McDonald’s
  • Clarence Carson, CCA, CCP, Chief Facilities Officer, Chicago Public Schools
  • Dr. Louis Carter II, Ph.D., Founder, Pres./CEO/Chairman, Environmental Engineering Org. Inc.
  • Stacey Chauncey, President/CEO, Secure Home, and Automation LLC
  • Dr. Marlon L. Cummings, Director, Leadership Doctoral Programs, Governors State Univ.
  • Nicholas E. Cummings, Deputy City Attorney, City of Evanston
  • Derrick Davis, Neuroscience Account Manager-Psychiatry, Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr. Dennis Deer Ph.D., Commissioner – 2nd District, Cook County Government
  • Donald J. Dew, President/Chief Executive Officer, Habilitative Systems Inc.
  • Gregory A. Faulkner, Vice President, Business Development, Trice Construction Company
  • Mark L. Ferguson, Deputy District Director, United States Small Business Administration
  • Daniel Franklin II, CEO, Essential Home Healthcare Inc.
  • Wayne M. Grooms, Jr., Lieutenant, Chicago Fire Department
  • Mark A. Hall, Vice President, Avidity Technologies Inc.
  • Elgin Holt, Deputy Chief, Area 2 Patrol, Chicago Police Department
  • Daryl Hopkins, Independent Broker/Realtor, Hometown Real Estate Group LLC
  • Damien Howard, Director of Education Initiatives, Together Chicago
  • Fernando Jones, Founder, Blues Kids Foundation
  • Julian A. Kidd, Managing Partner, Krimson Technology Group
  • Eric Luster, Sr., Teacher, St. Ethelreda Catholic School
  • Kenneth Mahone, President, Technical Solutions
  • Kevin W. McFall, President/CEO, Red Clay Digital Agency LLC
  • George N. Miller, Jr., President, The Loretto Hospital
  • Barry B. Mixon, Gemmologist, The Gem Hunter
  • Bruce Eric Montgomery, Founder/CEO/Executive Producer, Technology Access Television
  • Corey Oliver, Chief Operations Officer, Community Venture Investment Corporation
  • David A. Peterson, Jr., Director, National A. Phillip Randolph, Pullman Porter Museum
  • Melzie Porter, Director, Tri-Care
  • Roger J. Salter, Senior Vice President, Sanmar Financial Network
  • Anthony P. Scott, Vice President, Wintrust Bank
  • Christopher Scott, President, Opulent Credit Builders Inc.
  • Henry C. Spight, III, Patrol Commander, Illinois State Police
  • Alvin Starks, Sergeant-at-Arms, Chicago City Council
  • Dr. Jeffrey Sterling, President & CEO, Sterling Initiatives
  • Rev. Dr. Odel Sterling III, Assistant Pastor, New Nazareth M.B. Church
  • Early Walker, Owner, W & W Towing
  • Anthony Byron Waller, Owner/Chef, Catering Out The Box
  • Hon. Tyrone Ward, Mayor, Village of Robbins
  • Jeffrey White, Co-Founder/CEO, Legacy Rail Operations
  • Damon L. Williams, Jr., Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion, Northwestern University
  • Erick Williams, Owner/Chef, Virtue Restaurant
  • Hon. Eugene Williams, Mayor, Village of Lynwood

The second event, a virtual celebration, will take place Friday, August 14, 2020, with a third event, the “In-person” ceremony for family and friends to be scheduled in the future when in-person gatherings are allowed.

Danielle Sanders is an entertainment writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @blkwidowsweb.




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