BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Saturday night, the Youngstown area celebrated many of its brightest stars. We found out why the Black Excellence Awards are so special to the recipients.
The awards celebrate African-American community leaders, artists and entrepreneurs. It’s based on the people’s choice, meaning honorees are chosen and voted upon by the community.
“It’s fun. We get to dress up,” said Joseph Napier, recipient of the Community Leadership Award.
With all its glitz and glamour, the awards ceremony was full of elegance.
“A lot of times, they focus more on the negative things going on in the community. I wanted to give something back to the Black community that shows there are more positive things that are going on,” said Michelle Renee Ford, event organizer.
Awards went to artists like Willie Duck, Jr., who won Artist of the Year.
“I love to paint things from the city landscaping of the city and Mill Creek Park,” Duck said.
Napier organized Youngstown’s first week-long Juneteenth celebration.
“To show how rich our culture is and how we continuously look at ways to reinvent ourselves and highlighting our leaders in our community,” Napier said.
Pastor Lewis Macklin was recognized for his community service with the Community Service Award. He says events like this are important to honor people while they can still appreciate the love they receive from the community.
“As COVID has told us, nothing is promised to any of us. So we should give people their flowers while they can smell them, while they can acknowledge them, while they can embrace them. We lost some great treasures to our community and we’re reeling from that,” Pastor Macklin said.
The message from the host: anyone can be a person of excellence regardless of your past.
“I thought it was important to show people you don’t have to be perfect to be somebody of excellence,” Ford said.