DENNIS SEID: New event to recognize corporate diversity



Let’s be honest: Mississippi has an image problem. Despite the progress that’s been made in race relations over the years, it’s an issue we native Mississippians have to address far too often.

But look around and we’re a fairly diverse bunch.

In Tupelo, for example, I can run into a Japanese executive with Toyota in the grocery store one moment, eat at an Indian restaurant for lunch and then go to a Thai, Mexican or Chinese place for supper.

Last week, I met several German executives, who, by the way, met a certain German native who owns her own bakery here.

Yes, I know that’s simplifying things, but you get the idea.

Large corporations are sensitive to their images. The less controversy in a place the better. And if there’s anybody that’s going to help change the image of a community, it’s a business with a diversified workforce.

To recognize those diversified businesses in the state, Wesley Wells is promoting the inaugural “Our Mississippi Honors” program on March 15 at 6 p.m. at the BancorpSouth Conference Center.

The event, he said, is “a celebration and recognition of those corporations that have distinguished themselves in promoting diversity and inclusion in our state.”

“Diversity works for Mississippi,” said Wells, the event chairman. “We want to honor some of those corporations that practice diversity and inclusion. Mississippi has come a long way regarding diversity. Even though we still have a way to go, many companies are doing what it takes, and they should be celebrated.”

One of the headline speakers will be Stedman Graham, the CEO of S. Graham & Associates, a management and marketing consultant company. Graham has authored 11 books, including two New York Times bestsellers. You might also know him as the longtime companion of Oprah Winfrey.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Mr. Graham’s status to help us celebrate this event,” Wells said. “He is a big name, but more importantly, he’s very knowledgeable in regard to leadership and diversity. I’m sure he’ll deliver a great message.”

But perhaps the biggest guest of the evening will be Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, She will be presented with the first ourMississippi Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is reserved for “someone who has given of themselves to make Mississippi a better place for everyone.”

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. Tickets and tables can be purchased and reserved by calling (662) 844-2602 or emailing Tickets are $100 each.

“We are excited to host the ourMississippi Honors event in Tupelo,” said Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Encouraging people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds to chase their dreams with hard work and collaboration is a key part of what we call the ‘Tupelo Spirit.’”

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or

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