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Dream, grow and inspire represent three words the late Sherry Gamble-Smith held to heart as she developed and expanded the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce. Nearly four months after her passing, those left behind have continued her legacy with the opening of the Black Wall Street Business Center on Monday, Oct. 24 inside Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Spirit Bank Building on 1800 S. Baltimore Ave.
Monday’s ribbon cutting launches the opening week of the business center, which provides co-working space and office space rentals for the next generation of BIPOC entrepreneurs.
“We’ve been through a lot in the past four months, but one thing that we really wanted to focus on is making sure that the efforts that we were putting into the business center actually continue to flow,” said Lindsey Corbitt, interim President and CEO of the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce. She’s also Sherry’s middle daughter.
“This is a part of her legacy, even down to the furniture,” Corbitt added.
Black Wall Street Business Center: Continuing the legacy of Sherry Gamble-Smith
The Black Wall Street Business Center offers co-working space, shared office space, free wifi, free coffee and free printing. It also offers day passes, week passes, monthly desk and shared office rentals.
The Black Wall Street Chamber’s new business center seeks to build on Sherry Gamble-Smith’s legacy and to combat the racial disparities impacting Black entrepreneurs on both the local and national level.
In general, despite making up roughly 14% of the U.S. population, Black employer businesses (a business with at least one employee) comprise just 2.2% of the nation’s 5.7 million employer businesses, according to Brookings.
Locally, Tulsa’s Equality Indicators report shows wide racial disparities between White and BIPOC business ownership in the city 101 years after perpetrators of the Tulsa Race Massacre devastated the historically Black Greenwood community, home to the original Black Wall Street.
Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce advocates for community
Founded in 2018, the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce was birthed out of a desire from community members to have an entity that advocates for the community. The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce has long been criticized for its lack of transparency, arbitrary raises in rent, and public battles with community leaders.
As the first president of the Black Wall Street Chamber and until her untimely passing on July 6, 2022, Sherry Gamble-Smith cultivated a community dedicated to enhancing quality of life and business opportunities for Black Tulsans.
For interim President Lindsey Corbitt, the opening of the Black Wall Street Business Center represents only the beginning of efforts to grow Black Wall Street.
“And to continue her legacy. Make sure that just because she’s no longer with us that things don’t stop, but we continue to roll and redefine what her legacy is, grow that vision, and turn it into something that is beautiful and can be remembered for generations to come,” Corbitt said.
While Tulsa has a handful of other co-working spaces, Corbitt said she wants people to know that this center is dedicated to supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs.
To learn more about the center and how to get involved, visit bwsbusinesscenter.com.