DALLAS — Majesty Collins grew up just 18 miles south of downtown Dallas in Lancaster. At night, Majesty’s mother had to leave the children to fulfill her job duties working with inmates at the Dallas County Jail. It was there in the sleepy morning hours — just as Majesty wrapped her younger siblings in their coats for school — that she found herself daydreaming about the future.
She envisioned a world where she had equitable opportunities to follow her educational and career aspirations.
Most of all, Majesty wanted to make a sustainable impact on the world and help other young girls just like her.
“I had a lot of responsibilities to help my siblings because my mom worked overnight,” Collins said. “So I wouldn’t say I had a horrible childhood, but things could have been better for everyone. My mom did the very best she could to give me the life I have, and that’s why I go hard now. I want to encourage the next generation to get better. Because it’s supposed to get better.”
Collins was one of dozens of young professionals that attended the 2021 iCR8 Sports Marketing Workshop last week. The Dallas Mavericks hosted the event in partnership with the Marcus Graham Project (MGP).
Dallas-based MGP is a national network of diverse professionals that works to identify, expose, mentor, and train ethnically diverse men and women in all aspects of the marketing and media industry. MGP was one of seven organizations recently awarded grants from the NBA Foundation to drive economic empowerment in Black & Brown communities through employment and career advancement.
The five-day workshop took place last week at the Mavs Gaming Hub in Deep Ellum. It provided multicultural aspirants in the field of sports marketing with the exposure and access necessary to further their career interests within the advertising, media and marketing industry.
Throughout last week, workshop teams received briefs on a specific assignment and then spent the remainder of the workshop putting together a multi-platform marketing campaign. The teams then presented the campaign to guest panelists on the last day of the workshop.
MVP of the MGP Dallas Mavericks Workshop was Sabrina Veit, a senior advertising student at the University of Florida. As the winner, Veit earned an internship opportunity with the Dallas Mavericks over the summer.
The partnership between the Dallas Mavericks and Marcus Graham Project is part of the Mavs Take ACTION! plan to promote social justice, address racial inequities and drive sustainable change. Statistically speaking, the current rate of hiring and promotion in the advertising, media, and marketing industries does not reflect the racial diversity currently found in the United States.
“The Dallas Mavericks are excited to partner with the Marcus Graham Project (MGP) to further develop a diverse talent pipeline,” said Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall. “We’re also looking forward to the unique and authentic contributions the MGP participants will make on a variety of Mavs marketing campaigns. The return on investment will be extraordinary.”
In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed advertising and promotion managers in the United States and found that less than one percent (0.7%) were Black. With this in mind, initiatives such as those led by non-profit organizations like The Marcus Graham Project, in working with the Dallas Mavericks, are critical to creating opportunities and pathways to develop the next generation of BIPOC leaders.
Marshall was the keynote speaker at last week’s workshop. She, along with Mavs employees, presented all the attendees with new silver Mavericks basketballs in acrylic cases, and they all received unique coins engraved with the words: “EVERY VOICE MATTERS.”
Marshall encouraged the young adults to write their visions down and then spend time reflecting on the next five years. What do they want to accomplish? Who do they want to impact?
She could empathize with their journeys because she knows firsthand the insurmountable odds women and minorities often face when seeking a corporate career.
“I am sitting here right now because of the village that loved me and invested in me and decided that something was going to happen with my life,” Marshall said.
Marshall has been a dynamic force for inclusion and diversity since she was hired as CEO of the Mavs in early 2018, and she set her sights on a culture transformation from day one. Her vision was for the Mavericks to become the NBA standard for inclusion and diversity. She brought transparency, trust, and her values-based leadership style that evolved the company culture in her first 100 days.
The Mavericks staff is now 50 percent women and minorities.
“I have been a role model in different areas, and I love it,” said Marshall, the first Black woman CEO to lead an NBA franchise. “I feel the weight of it, but it’s a good weight because I have to always make sure that I’m the first and not the last. Every single day, I’m trying to bring others along.”
She has a great affinity for young people. Cynt is the proud mother of four adopted children who now flourish in their own spheres of influence as young adults.
She hopes to provide the young leaders with the Marcus Graham Project with the same kind of guidance, love, and nourishment she instilled into her own children. Most of all, she wants to give them all a chance to succeed.
‘SPORTS ARE A GREAT UNIFIER IN OUR SOCIETY’
Majesty Collins arrived at the 2021 iCR8 Sports Marketing Workshop by happenstance. Or perhaps it was something even more profound at work — like a divine connection.
“It was honestly by chance that I ended up here,” Collins explained. “One of my line sisters posted something about this event, and I just saw it by chance on Instagram. So I decided to apply and got accepted, and now I’m here.”
Larry Yarrell is the co-founder of the Marcus Graham Project and serves as the Chief Development Officer. He said stories like Collins remind him of the greater purpose behind the organization.
Every single young adult selected to participate in the event arrives from diverse backgrounds, and they are full of talent and drive. They just need the right kind of exposure to opportunities and meet the right people who will invest in their dreams.
“We strive to place people who are from different corners of the world and different backgrounds and different experiences in the same room,” said Yarrell, who is a native of North Texas and then graduated from Morehouse College. “People like Majesty and the other individuals find this workshop to be a unique opportunity for them. They take the most out of it they possibly can. We’re appreciative to have them commit to this week.”
Yarrell said he appreciates that the Mavericks don’t just want to check a box. He said that’s not what MGP is about, and he believes the partnership with the Mavs will be an incredible opportunity for countless young people.
“Sports are such a great unifier in our society,” Yarrell explained. ” Ironically the business of sports behind the scenes rarely has the diversity seen in the stands or the equity that encompasses the talent on the field or court. In our partnership with the NBA we have been able to expose talented individuals to the opportunities available to them in an industry that influences billions of people. In addition, we have a great opportunity to showcase to the Mavericks and other partnering organizations the diverse pool of young talent we have right there in the communities that support them the most.”
Last week, participants at the 2021 iCR8 Sports Marketing Workshop had the chance also to attend the Dallas Mavericks game against Miami. Marshall made a surprise stop and visited the attendees in their game suite.
“I think sports are huge drivers in our communities, and they’re areas where barriers and playing fields are more level,” Yarrell added. “So when you have an organization like the Mavericks, who appeals to so many different types of people, saying that they’re willing to get out in the community and provide access to individuals like these participants —it’s a big catalyst for success. It has the opportunity to change something greatly.”
Collins said she appreciated Marshall’s determination to visit with them, and she was also thrilled to hear her speak at the workshop Thursday.
“She said a lot of great things that I’ll take away,” Collins explained. “I would say that her speech was very inspirational, especially when she shared that it doesn’t matter where you come from or your background. Your education matters; what you do matters. And maybe in a few years, I can be a speaker and teach others and inspire them, too. My whole point in life is to pay it forward, and Cynt increased my desire for that.”
It’s important to note that Majesty’s story didn’t stop at Lancaster High School. Nor did it end at home, where she helped care for her siblings.
Majesty Collins graduated from Langston University in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Langston is the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the state of Oklahoma. Collins soared at Langston, where she was involved in numerous organizations like Alpha Chi National Honor Society and served as chapter president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
But it doesn’t end there.
She’s now attending graduate school to earn her master’s degree in sports management from the University of Kansas. The 2021 iCR8 Sports Marketing Workshop opened her eyes to many new avenues she hopes to explore in the upcoming years.
Meanwhile, Majesty’s mother will soon celebrate 20 years working for Dallas County Jail, where she is now department supervisor and prepares inmate releasees for their future.
Mom and daughter. Two strong Black women. Two leaders in the community. Two reminders that all things are possible to those who believe.
“I know it was hard to work overnight and then raise kids during the day,” Collins said. “But my mom did it so well. She dragged herself out of bed so many times, and I really admire her. I go hard because of her. I dream because of her. I want to do many things with my life so that when I’m a parent, I don’t have to work overnight. I know that’s something my mom always wanted, and now I get to be the change.”
To learn more about the Marcus Graham Project and help support future leaders, click here.