Honorees and Tim Lampkin (center), co-founder of Higher Purpose Co. pose with awards at ceremony

CLARKSDALE – As a way to kick off Black History Month, Higher Purpose Co. celebrated black excellence by honoring six black entrepreneurs from across Mississippi at their Harlem Nights themed annual fundraiser in Clarksdale. 

The theme Harlem Nights highlighted black culture in America and served as inspiration for the awards ceremony, said Jarquita Brown, communications and development coordinator.

“It was inspired by the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. It was a time in history that shifted our culture to what it is today,” she said. “It was a time that created a powerful shift in the minds of black folks coming together and coming together to create this ecosystem of tools and resources for generations to come.”

Higher Purpose Co., a black-led nonprofit, states that its focus is on building “community wealth with black residents in Mississippi by supporting the ownership of financial, cultural, and political power.”

The nonprofit emphasized the need to award entrepreneurs within the black community.

 “I hope it becomes less of a surprise that we’re honoring black excellence. I hope this is the beginning of becoming a norm,” Constance Brown, the organization’s capital access coordinator said. 

“… It’s just good to see someone who looks like you, maybe come from a similar background and just has a story behind their success that you can relate to or defer to when you’re starting your own venture.”

This month, over 100 guests filled up the Old Bank building to honor award recipients:

  • Charlestein Harris, community partner at Southern Bancorp
  •  Zedric Clayton, senior pastor at The City of Truth church
  • Thad Fairley, former program officer for Hope Credit Union who now serves as field officer for Congressman Bennie Thompson
  • Mario Watkins, owner of W8 Lounge and Snap Fitness
  •  Freddie W. Johnson, founder of Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation 
  •  Keyah Williams, owner of Mama Nature’s Juice Bar

In addition, Monica Coleman, membership donor, and Sondra Collins, board member, also received honorary recognition.

Tim Lampkin, the co-founder of the organization, announced the launch for their $2.5 million campaign for a 13,000-square-foot commercial property in downtown Clarksdale to develop a regional community wealth hub and serve as the nonprofit’s headquarters.

The space hopes to establish a creative learning lab, co-working space, business offices, multi-purpose theater, museum, gift shop, food hall and marketplace.The hub will be deeply rooted in self-determination, collective work, and economic justice to primarily focus on improving the quality of life for black residents in the Mississippi Delta region,” the team posted on its Facebook page.

Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.