Awards show honoring Black professionals from Mississippi scheduled to air Sunday, Apr. 28

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JANS – The Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards (YG&E) event is back for its 9th year to celebrate young African Americans from Mississippi and the South who are positively affecting change at local, national, and global levels. 

YG&E is scheduled to air at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28th, on WLOO My 35 and stream live on YG&E TV Roku channel and iOS app. 

YG&E is presented by Patty Peck Honda and Cricket.

The Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards’ mission is to empower and uplift the voices of the African American community by providing a platform for diverse and inclusive storytelling. YG&E strives to challenge and shift negative narratives, promote understanding and representation, and inspire positive change through the power of media.

Hosted by twin brothers Merc B. William and Cocky McFly, also known as the Vibe Controllers, the 2024 YG&E Awards celebrates the brilliance, resilience, and diversity of Black culture. 

The 2023 YG&E honorees are:

Dr. Terence James

Educator of the Year

As the career and technical administrator for Vicksburg Warren School District, Dr. James’ leadership has helped graduating seniors earn more than 12,951 semester hours of college credit, saving over $9 million in college tuition. Vicksburg Warren School District led the state in the number of college credits earned by high school students.

MS Move

Community Organization of the Year

At its inception 20 years ago, Mac Epps, Sabir Abdul-Haqq, and George Patterson were heavily focused on voter registration. Since then, the statewide nonprofit coalition has significantly broadened its footprint to include policy analysis, health and education programs, workshops, a benefit for the homeless, and disaster response.

Ashley Robinson

Leader of the Year

Ashley Robinson, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Jackson State University, has a knack for making great hires and turning programs around. He credits being student centered as the primary focus of his strategy. During his short six-year tenure, JSU Athletics has won 21 championships, posted a combined average of a 3.1 GPA for student athletes, and increased fan base and giving. Robinson also has won several prestigious awards, including the 2022 Cushman & Wakefield AD of the Year. 

Dr. Ebony Butler

Innovator of the Year

Dr. Ebony Butler is a licensed psychologist, food relationship strategist, and creator of the groundbreaking My Therapy Cards collection. My Therapy Cards, a deck for Black women that launched in May 2020, is a self exploration card deck designed with the intention of helping other women of color grow and elevate in the areas of emotional and mental health. Since its inception, My Therapy Cards has expanded into decks for men and teens, has an accompanying journal, and sold over 11,000 units worldwide. 

Dedrick Thomas

Entrepreneur of the Year

Dedrick Thomas is the designer behind some of the most iconic looks for Samuel L. Jackson, Tip “TI” Harris, and Magic Johnson, just to name a few. Thomas’s brand, Hideoki, has a reputation as a luxurious go to for celebrities, professionals, and fashion enthusiasts. Hideoki recently collaborated with golfing equipment giant PING to create “The 19th Collection,” and a million-dollar-plus commitment to HBCUs.

The success stories of this year’s cohort of honorees are awe-inspiring. Additionally, the performances are just as magical, with performances by Mississippi talents such as Canton gospel singer and Sunday’s Best contestant Ashford Sanders, spoken word artist Amanda Furdge, Southern Komfort Brass Band, and Michael J. Hall featuring LaNita Harris.

“Each year that we host YG&E I’m reminded of our collective brilliance, ingenuity, and ability to keep going,” said Shameka Reed, founder of the non-profit. “These honorees are 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 stories. We all should be proud of them and lauding their accomplishments every chance we get.” 

For more information about the 2024 Young, Gifted and Empowered awards, please visit

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Awards show honoring Black professionals from Mississippi scheduled to air Sunday, Apr. 28

By Jackson Advocate News Service
April 29, 2024