I’m not in the habit of getting awards. I have very few in my house and most of those are the rare journalism awards that I have won. I prefer to hand out awards as an emcee. Tonight, though, the shoe was on the other foot.
The New Pittsburgh Courier, one of the very first African-American newspapers, honored what they call their 50 Men of Excellence. Earlier this year, they had a similiar ceremony for the 50 women they honored. The honor and the evening, held at PNC Park, recognizes the achievements of 50 African-American professionals. Not just what they achieved in their careers, but also what they have done for the community.
There were the well-known like former Steeler turned bakery owner Franco Harris and former Steeler turned judge Dwayne Woodruff. Police chief Nate Harper and Alex Harper, President of CCAC. There was George Miles, the CEO of WQED and the Reverend Harold Lewis of Calvary Episcopal Church.
What do they all have in common? According to Rod Doss, the editor of the Courier and tonight’s host, this is what makes these men “excellent”:
There is no instruction manual for excellence; it is an intrinsic quality of character; or perhaps even instinct. Those who possess it share its benefits with the larger community; their excellence examples empower those around them to reach higher and strive harder.
Simply put, these men are people who lead by example and by deed and there fore empower a whole group of younger achievers to strive to be the best. That’s pretty heady stuff. You can see why I was a bit overwhelmed to be included in this group. I hardly think what I do on a daily basis measures up to the meaning of “excellence”.
Then again, maybe “excellence” is no more than doing your job to the best of your ability … and by example inspiring others. If that is the meaning, then I am honored to accept the award … though I would rather think of myself as a man of “better than average”, rather than “excellent”.