On Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, we lost a bright light, an unstoppable, unforgettable force of nature. His work across many industries, through various organizations, with several civic coalitions, alongside HBCUs and Atlanta public schools, in partnerships with corporate foundations, and effectively working with elected officials at the city, state, and federal levels of government always included advocating for underserved communities, and especially for youth. As a member and former Chairman of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. and Chairman of 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Mr. Dortch was an active member for over 37 years.
“As the members of 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and friends from around the globe mourn the loss of Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., we will forever honor his legacy through mentorship and service to our communities,” stated Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Vice Chairman, 100 Black Men of America, Inc.
During his tenure, which included multiple terms as Chairman of the Board (from 1994 -2004 and 2017 – 2023), many milestones were achieved by the organization. Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. proclaimed in 1994 that the organization’s work be focused in four areas: Mentoring, Education, Health & Wellness, and Economic Empowerment. After meetings with the U.S. Secretaries of Education the Hon. Richard Riley and Rod Paige and their staff, and strategic analysis by the 100’s National Chairs of Education, Mr. Dortch directed the 100 Chapters to elevate their engagement with our public education systems. These efforts led to chapters across the 100 network either chartering schools or working in partnership with local schools to maximize learning outcomes.
His passion to help young people live out their dreams fueled his vision to expand the organization’s reach. Through the corporate and community partnerships developed by Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. the organization has grown over the years. This growth has included the expansion of 100 Black Men Chapters globally that deliver unique programs, addressing specific needs in their local communities. Chairman Dortch had an unwavering belief and commitment to the 100’s proven blueprint — a model for mentoring and developing young people into future leaders — a strategy grounded in surrounding youth with a positive network and exposing them to experiences and possibilities. Throughout 100 Black Men of America, Inc.’s history, the organization has been recognized for its powerful and impactful outcomes that empower youth and communities in which they live.
Understanding the life-changing impact that mentors can have on a young person, Mr. Dortch worked to grow the organization by four times its size, expanding the mentoring movement beyond U.S. boarders. Accessing his network of corporate partners, Dortch was able to grow the resources of the 100 and move from a single staff person in a workshare space to the 100 having its own debt-free building, fully staffed and serving the growing network of chapters. Mr. Dortch’s leadership in multiplying mentors has been recognized by Presidents George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and Barack H. Obama.
From leading grassroots voter registration efforts to campaigns for desegregating public schools, and always working for greater economic justice, Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. just does not stop working to make a difference in the lives of others. In his later years he has written extensively on racial inequality and social change, shining a light on the inequities that vulnerable populations face daily. Chairman Dortch has been in good trouble and his continuous unwavering efforts should inspire us all to continue to fight for underserved communities living with health disparities, education inequality, over policing, and more.
The arc of Tommy’s life has demonstrated that you can be successful in business and continuously serve your community. You can educate and empower others and give voice to the voiceless by speaking truth to power, all while mentoring the next generation of leaders. Every area of his life that he dedicated to public service is important but mentoring youth was his passion. It comes across crystal clear in his book The Miracles of mentoring: How to Encourage and Lead Future Generations.
Chairman Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. was a changemaker and is a legend within the African American community. He will be missed but never forgotten. His leadership will remain an inspiration for generations to come.
Details of the funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.