Antonio L. McBroom ’08
2021 Beech Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Through his junior year in high school, Antonio McBroom thought he’d attend engineering school at N.C. State, North Carolina A&T or even Duke.
But that changed after he attended Carolina’s homecoming his senior year.
“I experienced the Black culture and excellence on UNC’s campus, had a whole lot of fun going to the step show, the game and Midnight Madness and knew this place had a lot to offer,” McBroom explains. “Then, when I was blessed the next year to be named a Morehead Scholar, my mama all but made the decision for me.”
McBroom, a native of Goldston, North Carolina, is a visionary real estate and franchise developer who purchased his first Ben & Jerry’s franchise during his senior year at Carolina. He co-owns franchises in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
He is the 2021 Harvey E. Beech Young Alumni Award recipient.
“I was very happy when he was selected,” says his executive assistant, Maria Carey, who nominated him. “He’s very authentic in his actions, a wonderful son, father, husband, boss, businessman, friend and brother. He loves his family and others and does what he can to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
McBroom, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and African American Studies from Carolina, started his journey with Ben & Jerry’s in Chapel Hill, working as an entry-level ice cream scooper. He later purchased the shop.
While becoming a business owner, he taught math through Teach for America and also spent time internationally with World Teach in South Africa.
McBroom credits his success to his late grandmother, Arzelia Headen, who taught him the importance of hard work, perseverance and how to love hard. His mother, Myron Jones, instilled in him a heart for doing good while passing down her gift of teaching and the value of education and Christianity.
His role model is Jesus Christ, the epitome of a servant leader, and his favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13.
Being an entrepreneur can be challenging, as McBroom sometimes experiences “banking while Black,” a practice of racially profiling Black people during routine bank visits. It can also be rewarding.
“The most rewarding part of my Ben & Jerry’s journey has been the people,” McBroom says. “My team, the Primo Tribe, gives my work purpose. Cultivating a team of 100-plus folks in the Southeast, and having a 100% Black-owned, majority Black-led leadership team is my way of dismantling systemic racism head on and showing the world what’s possible from my culture.”
An avid meditator and yogi, McBroom structures his life around service and giving back. He is a tithing member of New Hope Church in Durham and donates money to various organizations, including UNC and the Morehead-Cain Scholarship. He and his wife, Katie, have two children, Nia and Nox.
He thoroughly enjoys serving on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit organization known as we are working to extend anti-racist education, alongside founder Ronda Taylor Bullock, Ph.D., and her husband, D. Kelvin Bullock, Ph.D., who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC.
Kelvin Bullock has known McBroom for about 13 years.
“He’s a longtime friend of my wife’s family, and we taught in Durham Public Schools at the same time,” Bullock says. “In some ways, I haven’t been surprised by his success because he’s relentless in his pursuit of greatness while also uplifting people that have been in his corner from day one. He’s a phenomenal human being … who’s intelligent, fearless and socially conscious.”
Carey says many men of color, particularly Black men, both directly and indirectly have taught McBroom how to be a good role model. Now he’s paying it forward.
Added Bullock: “The primary characteristic that I feel makes him a good role model is the social justice element of his work. His leadership with Ben & Jerry’s isn’t just about ice cream or maximizing profits. It’s also about using his platform to advocate for greater justice in this world.”