Photo by Courtesy Duvalier Malone
When Jackson resident Duvalier Malone was 16, he entered and won an essay contest at Jefferson County High School sponsored by the Southwest Mississippi ETA Leadership Institution. The prize was a trip to Washington, D.C.
"During that trip, I had the opportunity to meet some of the state congressmen at the time, including Benny Thompson and Greg Harper," Malone, founder of Duvalier Malone Enterprises, said. "From the time I was 12, I had always had a dream to be in the community as an activist and address issues affecting the community ... I was always fascinated when I watched the congressmen on television, and I dreamed of meeting with them and shaking their hands. The dream came true on that trip."
After high school, Malone, who was born in an impoverished home in Fayette, Miss., attended Alcorn State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 2008. He later received a master's degree in the subject at Jackson State University. Malone, now 27, secured a job with the Department of Veterans' Affairs in Jackson after college. While working there, his continuing desire to aid the community inspired him to start Duvalier Malone Enterprises.
DME's mission is to provide community services in the form of workshops, assessments, seminars, broadcasts and social events to develop the potential of young people. DME consists of Dreams 2 Succeed, a youth oriented non-profit; Growth Talk Radio Show, a community activism broadcast; and the Mississippi Youth's Legends Ball, a formal event that brings teens and community legends together for a night of mixing and networking.
"I launched the Youth Legends Ball just last year," Malone said. "I invited state leaders from across Mississippi to come and meet with young people. I got the chance to go to D.C. by winning an essay contest, but some may never have the opportunity I did. I wanted to do something to help them by giving them a chance to meet a political leader, doctor or other professional they might never get to meet. From the students that attended the Youth Legends Ball, we recruited members for Dream 2 Succeed. I started getting speaking engagements after the ball and, through those events, met more students to recruit."
All of DME's branches share the goal of decreasing poverty and promoting education. This year, DME will be giving away 10 scholarships worth $500 each to students throughout Mississippi. DME is also giving out a scholarship in honor of Marco McMillian, the Clarksdale mayoral candidate murdered earlier this year.
"Students can dream really big, but some may never get the chance to see them come true because of limitations they face," Malone said. "I hope my company can give them that chance and find opportunities. I want people to be aware of what we are doing, and that there is nothing wrong with small beginnings."
For information, visit Malone's website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.