Last year the Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards (YG&E) barely missed the onset of the COVID pandemic. It was held the last Saturday in February, days before the world would experience a devastating global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 500,000 Americans, losses of millions of jobs and lives forever altered.
COVID has definitely changed and challenged every aspect of human interaction. YG&E is no exception. This year, instead of the pomp and circumstance of a night of Black excellence, YG&E is a 90 minute- pre-record-socially-distanced televised/streamed broadcast hosted by comedienne Rita Brent.
Presented by Patty Peck Honda, Higher Purpose Co. and Cricket Wireless, YG&E is scheduled to air at 4 p.m., Sunday, March 21st on WLOO My35, Spotlight Cable channel 70 – Biloxi, kweliTV app and at 7 p.m. on WHCQ channel 8.1 in Cleveland, Mississippi. An hour-long broadcast will air on Mississippi Public Broadcasting on April 11th at 1 p.m. The KweliTV app is available on the iOS app store, Amazon Fire, Google Play/Android, Roku, Apple TV, and Comcast Xfinity.
“We went through so much as a community in 2020 and even 2021 has not been without its share of challenges, we wanted to still have YG&E as a symbol of hope,” said Shameka Reed, founder of the non-profit. “It is our greatest desire that we bring some joy and inspiration to all who experience it via this broadcast, even if only for 90 minutes.”
Reed said that sponsors were completely onboard with the concept of the broadcast and quickly lent their support and resources to make sure that the 2021 YG&E happened.
“Steven James of the Steven James Foundation has supported us since year one. Patty Peck Honda returns as a title sponsor for the sixth year. Both Higher Purpose Co. (HPC) and Cricket Wireless were sponsors last year but decided they wanted to be title sponsors this year. That speaks volumes,” Reed shares.
“I’m really excited HPC is able to strengthen our partnership with YG&E to celebrate Black excellence across the state,” said Tim Lampkin, CEO of the organization. “This event provides a platform to embrace our cultural power and change the narrative about Mississippi.”
The 2021 YG&E honorees are:
Educator of the Year—Project Impact Mississippi
Project Impact Mississippi partners with schools, parents and education advocates within 36 counties of the state to be a support system. They have provided almost 8500 backpacks and given more than $60,000 in scholarships to high school students.
Entrepreneur of the Year—Natalie Collier
Natalie Collier is the founder and CEO of The Lighthouse, Black Girl Projects, a non-profit dedicated to helping develop the leadership skills of black girls and women.
Leader of the Year—Dr. Fulso Fakorede
Dr. Fulso Fakorede is an interventional cardiologist, endovascular and limb salvage specialist. He has helped to reduce amputation rates by 88 percent in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Artist of the Year—Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a 22-year-old Grammy-nominated recording Blues artist from the Delta.
“These honorees are all so deserving. They are real change agents for our great state and I’m proud that we get to tell a small part of their story,”
In addition to sharing the success stories of the honorees, the magic of the YG&E Awards are the performances. This year’s performances include Grammy-nominated Tank and the Bangas, gospel artist Alexis Spight, actress Amia Edwards and New Orleans jazz band Adonis Rose and the NOJO 7.
For more information about the 2021 Young, Gifted and Empowered awards, please visit www.younggiftedandempowered.
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Young, Gifted & Empowered is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to telling the stories of African Americans from Mississippi who are leaders in art, education, philanthropy, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.