Alton Kirksey, a junior at Michigan State, seeks to uplift and inspire with his company, Black Excellence. His brand targets African American high school students and aims to undermine all of society’s racial stereotypes about African American success, by merely, defining his own path.

Kirksey manages to do that, by networking with folks who look like him. He also uses the trending hashtag #BlackExcellence.

Not only does Kirksey’s social media platform promote, but so does the merchandise he advertises and sells. Alton’s products are used as a way to express to communities what it means to be Black and excellent. 

Kirksey’s mom, a DPSCD teacher, said her son shows “how outstanding African American men and women can be.” 

Thus, spreading self-awareness is what he likes to do. He strives to reach out to people like customer Erica C, who said, “young Black men and women should no longer be portrayed in a negative light.”

Kirksey, a former alumnus of Renaissance High School said, “Rising above social limits, is indeed the Phoenix way.” 

So, “seeing young people achieve so much is inspiring,” he said.  

He said his work is “not (simply) important, but imperative, to remind African Americans that we are, indeed, equally capable, and withhold talents that entitle us to rise above.”

When youth look at his brand, Kirksey not only wants them to think happiness and positivity but know how to strive to “be excellent,” even if in the process of becoming excellent, means failing sometimes.

His advice to young people is: “you will fail, and that’s OK, get back up and try again.”