Listen to this article here
Durham, North Carolina, based nonprofit Forward Cities recently announced a $400,000 grant by Truist Foundation to support the launch of the Black Wall Street Forward program, a narrative change initiative to catalyze Black-centric entrepreneurial ecosystems.
In addition to Durham, the program will be piloted in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem.
Last week, Forward Cities President and CEO, Fay Horwitt, spoke with The Black Wall Street Times about the new program aimed at changing the narrative around Black entrepreneurship.
I’ve always been curious to recapture that genie in a bottle from Durham’s original Black Wall Street,” says Horwitt.” We are trying to redesign a culture and environment in which Black businesses live and function and how they’re seen. We’re changing the narrative for those businesses, their support structures and networks.”
Horwitt stated the negative perceptions of a Black-owned businesses have to be reformed as well. According to their website, “the false and damaging dominant narrative for today’s Black businesses is one of diminished value, disinvestment, and a dependence on non-Black resources, networks, and funding vehicles in order to comparatively compete in the marketplace.”
Horwitt explains, “Let’s do this in a way that’s rooted in our culture. In a way that our community is going to engage with each other,” says Horwitt. “We do this in other parts of our community. But in Durham’s original Black Wall Street, they were doing this in a business sense.”
Black Wall Street Forward is intentional about circulating Black dollars.
Horwitt explained the differences in social responsibility narratives for Black and White business owners. “Success for white entrepreneurs may be developing a business, selling it, and leaving the town where it was started,” she said. “However, the narrative for Black entrepreneurs is not that in large part. For us, Black entrepreneurs often want to give back to their community, hire members of their community, and impact their neighborhood for the better over the years.”
Horwitt states Black Wall Street Forward will be an breathing ecosystem which can be replenished by community members actively dedicated to advancing Black-centric businesses.
Not relying on word-of-mouth marketing, Horwitt states they” be spreading the good news of their program through “stories, blogs, social media posts, and videos we’re creating now will later be included in a documentary.”
The Cardinal state to elevate Black Wall Street to unseen heights.
Forward Cities will select at minimum of five individuals to build the ecosystem in each city, Horwitt states those persons will then be trained and able to recruit other community members to join. Horwitt also mentioned a Black Wall Street Fund may later be established to keep the work continuously engaging. “This is very community-driven. We will be creating a fellowship of Black ecosystem builders in each of these communities.”
Titled Black Wall Street Forward; it is modeled on the pillars that made Durham’s original Black Wall Street successful, and aims to continue the legacy by supporting and catalyzing local leaders, Black business owners, and champions.
According to Forward Cities, the transformative pilot will engage the five North Carolina communities in a cohort-based learning journey to explore the past and present of Black entrepreneurship in these communities and to take collaborative action to build a better collective future.