By: Tony McCray
100 Black Men of Pensacola celebrated their 20th Annual Beautillion on May 21st at New World Landing in Downtown Pensacola. The “rites-of-passage” event serves as the commemoration of the achievement of the young men who have completed the organization’s leadership training program. Xavier Ansley-Black, Tyree Dashawn Randall and Roderick Levon Campbell, Jr were awarded academic scholarships of $1800, $1800, and $2400 respectively at the Sunday afternoon event. The President of 100 Black Men of Pensacola, Samuel Horton, wore a huge smile of pride on his face as the three leadership training program graduates received their African Walking Canes, an African Kufi, and a scarf.
During the presentation, each Beau was presented with an African Kufi, and scarf. These items are made of Kente cloth which is an authentic African selected cloth. Kente cloth originates with the Ashanti people of Ghana, West Africa, and is easily identified by its vibrant colors and unique patterns. Each kente pattern is unique, with its own name and significance. In its cultural context, the use of Kente is more than just a cloth, like most of the Africa’s visual art forms, Kente is a visual representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious belief, social values, and political thought. The scarves represent health, warmth and nurturing.
In West Africa, a Kufi cap is the traditional hat for men and is part of the national costume of most countries in that region, many grandfathers and other men wear kufi’s every day to symbolize their status as wise elders, religious people, or family patriarchs. The kufi represents a crowning achievement in the rites of passage. The presentation symbolized that each young man was now ready to move on to the next level in becoming successful in life.
The organizers of the 100 Black Men of Pensacola chapter met on January 22, 1990 which led to the chartering of non-profit organization on May 30, 1991 as the first 100 Black Men Chapter in Florida. The founding president, Charles Williams, led the effort for the new group to host a meeting of Chapter Presidents from around the nation in December of 1994. This was the first chapter to host a President’s Summit of chapters from around the country outside of Atlanta which contributed to the momentum of highlighted efforts of the group in the local community.
In his message to the community in the 20th Annual Beautillion Program, Samuel Horton described their organizational mission as follows, “Our value proposition is to provide mentoring services across the lifetime of African-Americans in our communities to achieve education excellence, health and wellness and economic empowerment. 100 Black Men of Pensacola, Inc. serves in a community leadership role by focusing our efforts on improving the quality of life of the youth we serve in the Pensacola area, through our Tomorrow’s 100 and Collegiate 100 programs”.
Xavier Ansley-Black is a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology and plans to attend the University of Florida and major in Industrial Engineering; Roderick Levon Campbell, Jr. is a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology and plans to attend Florida State University and major in Biomedical Engineering; and Tyree Dashawn Randall is a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology and plans to attend Florida State University and major in Theatre.