The 27th annual Archbishop James P. Lyke African American Male Image Awards aired virtually on February 28th from Chicago, honoring men from around the country for their service and legacy as role models.

14 adults and 10 students were honored in the ceremony by St. Felicitas - St. Ailbe Court #181 of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary. (The court operates at Chicago’s St Katharine Drexel Catholic Church, resulting from the merger of St Felicitas and St. Ailbe parishes in 2018.)

The student honorees, soon-to-be high school graduates, received scholarships from various memorial funds for which the Image Awards serve as a fundraiser.

Among the adult honorees were Deacon Melvin “Mel” Tardy, Jr. of St Augustine’s in South Bend, president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, and Deacon Reginald Dwayne Russell of St Peter Claver Church in Macon, Georgia.

The Ladies of the Court #181 have sponsored the event since its inception, and Chicago’s own Elder Useni Eugene Perkins has provided the rites of passage ceremony each year as well. This year was no exception.

The ceremony was emceed by ABC7’s Val Warner and featured musical entertainment from 16-year-old Carson Barnes, who performed a stirring rendition of Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”.

Cardinal Cupich and Mayor Lightfoot sent their well wishes by letter, expressing appreciation for the event’s focus on uplift and the living legacy of the Knights and Ladies (the oldest and largest Black Catholic organization in the country) and Abp Lyke—the Church’s second-ever African-American archbishop, and a native of Chicago.

Supreme Lady Micaela Leblanc also sent her congratulations, and Grand Lady Bobbie Levy provided the ceremony’s closing remarks.

Donations to the court’s scholarship fund can be made here.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).