History

In the spring of 1989 approximately twenty men came together for an informal dinner to recognize the contributions of Delaware’s first African-American lawyer, the late Louis L. Redding. The dinner, held at the University and Whist Club of Wilmington, Delaware was informally known as the Black Men Celebration.

About five years later, a core group of these distinguished men decided to establish a forum to celebrate the achievement of all Black Men. The first Celebration Dinner was held at the Rodney Square Club, on the top of the Wilmington Trust Building on September 29, 1995. There were approximately 100 Black men in attendance. The Dinner committee members were

Calvin H. Christopher,
James H. Gilliam, Sr.,
John W. Land,
Norman Lockman,
Hon. Gregory M. Sleet,
Dr. Alton Williams, and
Chairperson James H. Gilliam, Jr.The “black tie” event had a singular purpose: to remind each of us that we are not alone – nor are we “disappearing islands” – in fact, we are prospering in even greater numbers. The Celebration Dinner did not involve special recognition, just great fellowship and an opportunity to collectively celebrate all of our accomplishments.

The core group did not originally plan to hold an annual Celebration Dinner, thus, no Dinner was held in 1996. However, the positive feedback from the 1995 event demanded an encore.

A follow-up dinner celebration was planned for 1997. Chaired once again by James H. Gilliam, Jr., the dinner committee included
Calvin H. Christopher,
Sidney Clark, Sr.,
Ernest ”Sammy” Congo,
James H. Gilliam, Sr.,
J. Nathan Hill,
John W. Land,
Butch Lewis,
Norman Lockman,
Hon. Joshua W. Martin, III,
Stacey J. Mobley,
Hon. James H. Sills, Jr.,
and Hon. Gregory M. Sleet.

The dinner was held at the Christina River Club on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 24, 1997. One hundred twenty-five men attended the 1997 dinner.

In 1998, the Hon. Joshua W. Martin III chaired the Celebration dinner. The dinner was again held on the Monday before thanksgiving at the Christina River Club. The 1998 dinner marked the beginning of the Youth Mentoring and Community Service Award component of the dinner.

In 1999, the formal “Ebony Tie Affair” name was adopted. By this time the group had outgrown the seating capacity of the Christina River Club and the Affair was moved to the First USA Arts Center. The Dinner Chairman for 1999 was J. Nathan Hill.

In August of 2003, the Ebony Tie Affair committee mourned the loss of one of its core members, James H. Gilliam Jr. Respectfully, the committee decided to postpone the event for one year.

We have come together annually since to fellowship and celebrate our collective accomplishments.