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Memphis Grizzlies tip off Black History Month with HBCU Empowerment Awards, celebrating HBCU Graduates dedicated to serving the Memphis community

Memphis, Tenn. — Beginning with tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Memphis Grizzlies will recognize honorees for this year’s HBCU Empowerment Awards, presented by Pinnacle Financial Partners, during the seven home games in February. The HBCU Empowerment Awards honors individuals who have graduated from an HBCU and are empowering the Memphis and Shelby County community within the areas of education, health and wellness, service and youth development. In the past five years, the Grizzlies have honored 28 graduates from 14 different Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with each receiving a $5,000 gift in their name to their school. The 2023 HBCU Empowerment Awards Honorees include: 

  • Ena Esco Cole, Founder of Ivy Multimedia and the Verbally Effective podcast; Graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College (honored Wednesday, Feb. 1, vs. Portland Trailblazers)
  • Jozelle Luster Booker, President and CEO of the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum; Graduate of Jackson State University (honored Sunday, Feb. 5, vs. Toronto Raptors)
  • Sam O’Bryant, III, Executive Director of Literacy Mid-South; Graduate of Alcorn State University (honored Tuesday, Feb. 7, vs. Chicago Bulls)
  • Sunya Payne, Director of Family and Community Engagement with Memphis Shelby County Schools; Graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College (honored Friday, Feb. 10, vs. Minnesota Timberwolves)
  • Anthony Branch, CEO of Memphis Leadership Foundation; Graduate of Howard University (honored Wednesday, Feb. 15, vs. Utah Jazz)
  • Arlinda Fair Cathey, Program Manager for Diversity Equity and Inclusion Programs and Community Engagement for the National Civil Rights Museum; Graduate of Jackson State University (honored Saturday, Feb. 25, vs. Denver Nuggets)
  • Bridget D. Sisney, Creator of Universoul Wellness; Graduate of Dillard University (honored Tuesday, Feb. 28, vs. Los Angeles Lakers)

Each February, the Memphis Grizzlies shine a spotlight on Black History Month, reminding fans that Legacy Lives Here. Annual programming is designed to educate the public and fans about the contributions of past and present Memphis history towards Black History; inspire excellence, innovation and creativity within all industries; and empower greater collaborations and shared purpose that uplifts the Black community. To learn more about how the Memphis Grizzlies celebrate Historically Black Colleges and Universities, visit Grizzlies.com/HBCU.

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