Our Mississippi Honors: Plans Coming Together for Large 2023 Event

Our Mississippi Magazine publisher Wesley Wells says he expects the 2023 Our Mississippi Honors Gala to be the largest one to date. The event, in its eighth year, is a celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. There will be some new additions to next year’s event, which is scheduled for March 24-25, 2023, at the Cadence Bank Conference Center in Downtown Tupelo.

“It’s going to be a big weekend,” Wells said. “We’ve got some new things we’ll be doing to add to the festivities. Friday will be a full day, and the Saturday night gala is always something special, especially anytime you’re celebrating something as important as diversity, equity and inclusion. There will be a lot going on.”

A new twist to Saturday night’s gala will be the addition of Mississippi’s Most Influential African Americans. That event had previously been held separately in Jackson before the COVID pandemic forced cancellations in 2020 and 2021. Wells said 12 individuals, which were nominated by the public, were selected by an independent panel earlier this fall. Those individuals will be recognized and honored at the gala.

“It is a phenomenal group that was selected,” Wells said. “Each of them are deserving of this honor, and we can’t wait to celebrate them. That is only going to add to an already special evening. We expect many people to be there to support these honorees, and we’re expecting to sell out the event pretty early.”

Corporations to be honored for diversity practices

Another part of Saturday night’s gala will be honoring Mississippi corporations for their diversity practices. Wells said the emphasis for this year’s corporate honorees is those with African-American board members.

“Racial diversity is really important,’’ Wells said. “Even though we’re not anywhere we need to be when it comes to minorities on corporate boards, we’re thankful for the corporations that realize this and are trying to do something about it. We’re reaching out to those corporations and letting them know we see them. They need to be recognized and applauded for trying to do the right thing and making a difference,”

“We also see those corporations and businesses that have minorities in leadership positions. It’s always special when African Americans are allowed in the decision-making process. The C-Suite, as people refer to, has long evaded minorities. We’re hoping for things to continue to grow in that area.”

Friday will feature a diversity and women’s conference

Friday will be a busy day, also, Wells said. A women’s conference is normally held the day before the gala, but a diversity conference will also be added.

“We decided to do a little more with the day,” Wells added. “We’re looking to get into the nuts and bolts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’re expecting representatives of many Mississippi corporations to take part. It should a great opportunity to learn and network and take those experiences back to your place of work.”

Wells said the guest speaker for the event will be named soon, and there will be a limited number of general admission tickets available to the public. Previous speakers have included Lou Gossett, Jr., Ernie Hudson, Stedman Graham, Keith David, John Amos, Wally “Famous” Amos, and most recently, Lamman Rucker.

“With combining both events, we’re expecting a capacity crowd of well over 400,” Wells added. We’re waiting for the honorees and corporations to determine how many general admission tickets we’ll have available. I expect we’ll sell out well before the event date.”

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