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GREENWOOD Dist. — On Saturday, February 11, Build In Tulsa hosted a free Black men of Entrepreneurship brunch at Retro Grill and Bar in North Tulsa. Dozens of Black men and a few men of different nationalities gathered to network, fellowship and discuss ways to invest and grow Tulsa’s evolving economy.
The attendees enjoyed their meal over conversation with one another as they were encouraged to sit by someone they didn’t know. Engineers, entrepreneurs, educators, musicians and community partners were all in attendance. Some of the conversations were about start-ups, health and how Tulsa has developed since the early 2000’s.
The event held a fireside chat panel, which consisted of four Black men who currently play a role in the economic development of Tulsa.
Brentom Todd, Community Outreach Manager at Atento Capital, served as the emcee for the panel. Jonathan Long, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Tulsa Chamber, Aaron Whigham, Managing Director for New U and Trey Thaxton, Owner of Goldmill Co. and Greenwood Ave., made up the panel.
Each panelist took turns answering questions on a range of topics: mentorship, mental and spiritual development, work life balance and a pivotal moment that helped their professional development.
Thaxton answered a question about goals, stating, “Goals aren’t for you to get something, it’s for you to become the person that can accomplish that goal.”
Whigam stated, “It’s a time for planting, time for harvesting. I plant it, it’s going to come back to me.” He said. “Go to God for everything, good, bad and ugly.”
Creating more opportunities for Black Men
Build In Tulsa’s mission is to close the racial wealth gap in America by catalyzing the creation of multi-generational Black wealth through tech and entrepreneurship, according to their website.
Desiree Frieson, the Director of Programming for Build In Tulsa, spoke on the importance of having an event catered towards Black men. “We need more Black men in entrepreneurship. We need more Black-owned businesses, and we know that in order to truly create a holistic economy of Black business owners, we need our men out there too,” she told The Black Wall Street Times.
Lang shared his experiences of being the only Black person in a leadership position at various organizations. “Oftentimes, I feel like we are left out. Black men are not included or are not seen in those community leadership opportunities,” Lang told The Black Wall Street Times. “I think having a group here today like this is special, and we need to try to do more of this and try to get more people involved.”
Todd spoke of his experience at the brunch as the panel emcee. “I think today’s event was amazing. I was sitting up on the panel looking out, and it was just a beautiful room of men coming together, learning from each other and wanting to build and grow each other,” he told the Black Wall Street Times.
“Now networking is happening, connections are happening, and you’ll see the fruits of this room continue to reverberate as Tulsa continues to grow.”