al_sharpton_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

WEST PALM BEACH — Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton will help honor African-American men making significant contributions in South Florida when the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, in partnership with the Delta Heritage Foundation, sponsors its 2012 Men of Excellence Awards.

The event will be held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in downtown West Palm Beach on Saturday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m.

This year’s honorees include Reginald B. Asberry, Arts; Bradley G. Harper, Education; Kevin L. Jones, Social Action; Bruce N. Lewis, Business Executive; Paul Nunnally, Humanitarian; Avery T. Siders, Health & Wellness; and C. Ron Allen will receive the Founder Organization Award for the Knights of Pythagoras.

Event co-chair Nerissa Edden said it is paramount to recognize African-American men whose selfless efforts are making an impactful difference now and for years to come.

“The reason we put on this event every year is because we want the community to know there are African-American men out there thinking of more than themselves, wanting to bring about improvement and adamant to leave a legacy of positive change,” she said.

Edden said the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority supports and encourages such change and recognizes achievers who are making strides for excellence within the local community.

This year’s keynote speaker is civil rights activist Sharpton, who recently led a march and rally in Sanford in support of justice for Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was gunned down by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

“Trayvon could have been any one of our sons. Trayvon could have been any one of us,” Sharpton said at the protest. “Zimmerman should have been arrested that night. We love our children like you love yours. Lock him up!”

Sharpton has been a civil rights activist since the 1960s when he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and has since fought for racial equality, diversity in the workforce and youth empowerment.

Edden said she thinks he will be enlightening about social issues, as well as being a motivator for civic activism. “Our keynote speaker, Rev. Al Sharpton, will deliver a message that is both motivational and inspiring about social issues that affect our community,” she said, “and bring about political awareness within our communities, so that all will want to be more involved and do more for a better America.”

Edden said she hopes the Men of Excellence program will help motivate members of the community, particularly youth.

“We would like to have our community see African-American men doing positive and great things,” she said, “and be inspired to also go out and make an impact in the community, especially the youth to feel compelled to do more for others.”

The criteria for selecting honorees include strong leadership skills, exemplifying a significant impact on the community and positive contributions. “We believe in the importance of honoring different community leaders and pioneers who have accomplished many things,” Edden said. “Those giving back to the community.”

Next year the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will honor the Women of Excellence.

For more information contact Nerissa Edden at 561-366-3020 or Allyson Dupree-Smith at 561-758-1277.

Photo: Al Sharptom