Miss Mississippi Vivian O’Neal addresses Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Published 12:42 pm Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon at the Vicksburg Convention Center on Wednesday, featuring guest speaker Miss Mississippi 2023 Vivian O’Neal.

O’Neal spoke about a variety of topics, including her community service initiative, CapABLE. The program is designed to help students with disabilities and to encourage discussions about inclusivity.

“(The topic of) student disabilities and inclusivity is a conversation that is so often left off the table. It’s a conversation that we don’t like to have,” O’Neal said. “We talk about inclusivity overall. We talk about those things generically. But typically when you talk about somebody with a disability and true accessibility, that doesn’t get addressed.”

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O’Neal is a native of Hattiesburg and has a Master’s degree in higher education. She won the Miss Mississippi competition in June.

She said her brother suffers from a disability called Nemaline Myopathy and that she was frustrated seeing him discriminated against in school.

“That really sparked an incredible passion (in me). And it started, to be perfectly honest, with a little bit of anger,” she said. “It became personal.”

O’Neal said that one of the goals of CapABLE is to educate young students about the importance of inclusivity as it relates to their disabled peers.

“The message of CapABLE is that we want to start at the source, to encourage these students to be an advocate for their friends; to be advocates and to continue serving students with disabilities,” she said.

Four new businesses were also welcomed into the chamber at the meeting: Magnolia Trading LLC, Milano’s Italian Grill, Amadeo Home Care Services and Askew’s Landing RV Campground.

The speaker for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s August luncheon will be Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

For more information about the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, visit the organization’s website, vicksburgusa.com.