Earlier this month, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta hosted its signature fundraiser, the 100 Honors Gala, in person for the first time in four years. 

Over a thousand people attended the black tie event to help the organization support its Project Success programs. 

“Project Success is composed of several smaller initiatives like our Pathways of Development where we bring in individuals from various professions and they speak with the kids about their educational journeys, what their career paths look like and what they need to do if they want to pursue a similar career path,” said Keith Milliner, Immediate Past Chair of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. 

Heeding the social distancing recommendations due to the pandemic and transitional issues prevented the members from hosting the gala for the past four years. 

The 100 Atlanta’s chairman, Sidney Barron, said they recently attempted a virtual format of the gala but were not as successful as in the past. 

“This was our first gala in four years due to COVID and we haven’t been able to get off the ground with something since 2019,” said Louis Negron, Executive Director for the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. 

Barron said now was a great time to return the program to its original form. 

Now adapting to the new normal due to the pandemic, Negron said it was almost like a reintroduction to the Atlanta community. 

With “Empowering Our Youth” as its theme, the 100 used the opportunity to celebrate local companies and individuals doing that today.

Ranging from education, entertainment and social action, the 100 selected those who demonstrated the same efforts they try to instill in their mentees — mentorship, education, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, and health and wellness. 

“The biggest thing for us was securing who to honor and since it was four years since the last time we honored somebody, we thought about honoring some of our local heroes,” Negron said. 

Recording Executive Jermaine Dupri (right) accepting the Andrew Young Lifetime Achievement Award from Ambassador Andrew Young (left) at the 100 Honors. (Image provided by 100 Black Men of Atlanta.)

This year’s Andrew Young Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Songwriters Hall of Famer and Atlanta native Jermaine Dupri, Atlanta Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell received the John Lewis Emerging Leader Award, President and CEO of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship Jay Bailey was awarded the Maynard Jackson Community Impact Award, Dr. Kevin James, President of Morris College with the Nathaniel Goldston Trailblazer Award and Delta Airlines receiving the Chairman’s Circle Corporate Responsibility Award. 

A new award presented this year was the Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Civic Leadership Award, dedicated to the 100 of Atlanta and 100 Black Men of America former chairman who died earlier this year. 

Uncle/nephew duo Joshua and Richard Byrd were the first to receive this honor, commending them with their anti-gun violence leadership program.

With Dortch having a social and financial impact on African Americans in Atlanta, Barron said no better person deserved to have this award named in his honor. 

“One of those things where a lot of members from now — in perpetuity —  who will never meet Tommy and will never get to know who he was or what he contributed to [the 100] but they will see the impact that he had on the 100 of America as well as the 100 of Atlanta,” Barron said. 

By night’s end, the 100 raised over $500,000 that will help them continue their efforts to mentor the capital’s youth. 

Atlanta Falcons Cornerback AJ Terrell and his son receiving the John Lewis Emerging Leader Award at the 100 Honors. (Image provided by 100 Black Men of Atlanta.)

“I mean, it’s amazing that the Atlanta community, both corporate and individuals, have been good to us,” Negron said. “It’s a blessing that people support and believe in the program and the mission of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. We are still a relevant organization that makes a change here in the city, so we feel good.”

The funds raised will help the 100 grow and scale their purpose of helping the lives of youth grades 6 to 12 by assigning a mentor to every Atlanta Public School student that wants one and continuing their Project Success programs at schools like Best and Coretta Scott King Academies. 

“We have a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate for all of our students who participate in Project Success at Best Academy and 96 percent at Coretta Scott King Academy this year,” Milliner said. “Those numbers have been consistent for the past decade.” 

Log onto their website to donate to the 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

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