The lights dimmed, and suddenly, the massive ballroom at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center became part gala, part pep rally, part runway.

The audience of nearly 1,000 people cheered as local heroes, one by one, were called to be greeted at the front of the room by women who were cheered in years past.

Billed as an annual celebration of black female achievers, the Michigan Chronicle and Real Times Media’s annual Women of Excellence fete last week was so much more than that: It was…