Black Wall Street: East Winston Echoes Historic Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street: East Winston Echoes Historic Black Wall Street
June 30
13:08 2021

By Ja’Net Adams

Many speak of the racial massacre by white mobs that murdered over 300 Black men, women, and children in Tulsa, Okla., but many don’t focus on the awesomeness of their Black Wall Street.

The Genius of O.W. Gurley

Black Wall Street started when the genius O.W. Gurley bought a large tract of land in Tulsa. Gurley was a businessman before going to Tulsa, having run a successful general store for 10 years. He accelerated his business mindset when he reached Tulsa.

Gurley knew that Blacks would soon head toward Tulsa for a new life away from Jim Crow and to get in on the oil fields, so he decided to prepare a place for them. He first built a grocery store because people would need to buy food and then he started to divide the land he bought into lots that could either be used for homes or businesses.

His preparation and hard work helped turn Greenwood (Black Wall Street) into one of the wealthiest areas for Black people in the country. With the assistance of J.B. Stratford, who was also a successful businessman, Black Wall Street soon became the center of Black wealth, intelligence, ingenuity, prosperity, and upward mobility.

Pictures on the internet that show Black Wall Street depict a small slice of life there, a few buildings or people with fur coats riding in a car, but Black Wall Street was much more, composed of 35 blocks of enterprising society. 

Stick with me here as I share everything Greenwood had in their possession. 

They had hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, law offices, luxury stores, jewelry shops, barber shops, beauty salons, airport, bank, hospital, post office, schools, taxi service, movie theaters, dentist offices, YMCA, brick company, roller rink, funeral homes, auto shops, buses, churches, newspaper, transportation system, and MUCH MORE!

The growth of Black Wall Street was not only seen in the buildings, but also in the population which grew to more than 10,000 people. The residents made every dollar they earned work for them and for Black Wall Street. Their dollar would circulate 30 times within Greenwood before it would leave, compared to today where the Black dollar circulates for six hours before it leaves. 

Take a look at Winston-Salem

Not all of Winston-Salem, just East Winston, where I was born and raised. East Winston reminds me of Black Wall Street as it has a similar foundation of being a Black Wall Street.

Many in the city of Winston-Salem tend to dismiss East Winston because all they see is Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Even though MLK Jr. drive has a Black-owned bank (Mechanics and Farmer Bank) and one of the best higher education institutions in the country for upward mobility (Winston Salem State University), all outsiders can see is a small portion of the street and attribute it to all of East Winston. 

If you look past MLK and go down the road a bit, you will find the people who make up the “real” East Winston. The people who everyone else in Winston-Salem does not see. Like Black Wall Street, there are bankers, teachers, principals, doctors, dentists, human resource directors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, postal service workers, artists, and many others from all walks of life. Many have lived here for decades and have built wealth.

There are many similarities between Greenwood and East Winston, but there are also differences. 

Let’s look at the similarities first. 

Businesses: Entrepreneurship was the foundation of Black Wall Street. It is what built the wealth there. East Winston has a plethora of Black-owned businesses, some that have been in business for decades and others for just a few years. But each and every one of them serves their community and now that service extends to the world at large, thanks to global commerce. Here are just a few: 

Restaurants: We all love good food and East Winston is home to great restaurants. There is Taste Of The Triad, Forsyth Seafood, Ackingna’s, and the newest one, Papa Lee’s. Food is a work of delicious art in East Winston and has always been. In addition to the privately owned restaurants, there are also international franchises like a McDonald’s that is Black owned, as well as a variety of food trucks. 

Healthcare: Today you see doctors being taken over by hospital systems because the cost of running a private practice has shot up, and so has the student loans it takes to become a doctor. It was not always this way and there was a time when doctors owned their thriving practices. 

I remember one doctor in particular, my pediatrician, Dr. Kennedy. His pediatric office has probably seen over 90% of the children in East Winston. Dr. Charlie Kennedy was the first Black resident at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the first Black pediatrician in Winston-Salem. He used his influence to raise millions of dollars for the United Negro College Fund to continue the legacy of sending African American students to college.

In addition to medical doctors, there are also dentists in East Winston who serve those that others may not accept as patients. It is fortunate to have dentists like Dr. Warren and Dr. Jeffries in East Winston.

Retail Stores: One of the most well-known Black-owned shops is Body and Soul. Owner Dana Suggs has a variety of items to choose from, such as clothes, jewelry, books by African American authors, skincare, aromatherapy, and much more. And a shopper can be local or on another continent and can conveniently shop from their website,

Beauty Salons and Barber Shops: This is a no-brainer that since East Winston is probably 99.9% Black, it has numerous beauty salons and barbershops. There are barbershops with barbers who have been cutting the same person’s head for over 35 years. Like Black Wall Street, salons and shops will always be needed in an area where African Americans are the majority because if it is one thing we take pride in, it is our hair!

Funeral Homes: During a time when Black people were seen as less than, Greenwood made sure they were in a position to honor the lives of those who lived there. They owned their own funeral homes and in the same fashion, East Winston has multiple funeral homes. For decades Russell’s, Hooper, Clark S. Brown, Gilmore, and Douthit have served grieving families in the community and helped ease the loss of a loved one. These funeral homes are Black-owned businesses that are creating generational wealth. 

There are real estate companies, auto shops, clothing shops, Black-owned gas stations of the past and much more. In addition to all the Black-owned businesses, there are resources just outside of East Winston to help those businesses grow. There is the Forsyth Tech Small Business Center under the leadership of Allan Younger, Access Winston Salem, Hustle, and Piedmont Business Capital under Director Wilson Lester. All have been instrumental to helping businesses start and grow to the next level.

The Arts: Black Wall Street had the Dreamland Theater built by John and Loula Williams and it was the main theater for those who lived there. The arts are also in full display in East Winston and take up more than one theater. The Arts are so big that they overflow into the rest of the city and the WORLD!

Let’s start with the most popular arts event that brings over 60,000 people from around the world to Winston-Salem: The National Black Theater Festival. Started by the late Larry Leon Hamlin, the festival continues on today by Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin and it has brought in tens of millions of dollars to Winston Salem for decades. Legendary African American actors have graced stages across the city and brought to life the stories of Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Paul Robeson, Sammy Davis Jr, Marvin Gaye and many more. There are parades, acting classes for young people, a top notch vendors marketplace, gala, and African American culture bursting throughout Winston-Salem. It is so big they can only do it every two years, but I pray one day it will be every year!

There is also arts year ‘round in East Winston, thanks to the Delta Arts Center and Diggs Gallery on the campus of Winston Salem State University. Both locations display the artwork of local, national, and international African American artists.

In addition to the stage and the canvas, the arts are also displayed in dance as well. The younger generation has begun to take the reins with Greater Vision Dance Company and is leading the way. Under the leadership of Wayne Jones, young girls and boys are learning various dance techniques and performing all over the city.

Education: Segregation has filled Winston-Salem’s history when it comes to education, just as it did in Greenwood. The children had no other option but to go to school with others that had the same skin color as them. In Greenwood, children were taught by the best teachers and at Booker T. Washington High School they learned algebra, geometry, Latin, trigonometry, chemistry, economics, art, music, and real life trade skills that could be used to make money. Black Wall Street valued education so much that they put their money where their mouth was and teachers were some, if not the most highly paid professionals in the city.

East Winston had all Black high schools in the past and has predominantly Black high schools today. These schools have and are educating future CEO’s, engineers, teachers, principals, senators, presidents, lawyers, nurses, doctors, and any other imaginable profession in this world. Carver High School is known for a legend that is close to me, David L. Lash. Coach Lash was my first tennis coach and is the main reason I was able to get a full ride college scholarship in tennis. Schools like Anderson, Paisley, Atkins, Carver, QEA, and Winston Salem Preparatory worked hard then and are working hard now, each and every day, to give students the best future possible. 

The education doesn’t stop at a high school degree. If students want to take it to the next level, they have the option of attending one of the best colleges in the country. Winston-Salem State University, which sits in East Winston, brings thousands of students from around the world to Winston-Salem. Students seek out WSSU’s top programs, especially their nursing program, which has continuously been at the top for many years. In addition to preparing students for their career, WSSU contributes to the local economy, estimated to be around $500 million annually, and produces 8,400 jobs. In addition to contributing to the city financially, WSSU also contributes information to the community through its Black owned radio station 90.5. WSNC 90.5, which plays music by African American artists in the genres of jazz and gospel, as well as covering topics that are important to those who live in East Winston.

Recreation: All work and no play makes a dull life. Black Wall Street knew that it was important to have fun places for their residents to relax. They had a YMCA, skating rink, and playgrounds for children and adults to have fun when they were not at work or at school. Just like Greenwood, East Winston has plenty of places to have fun! East Winston has its own YMCA that we affectionately call the Winston Lake Y. 

There is Carl Russel Recreation Center, Rupert Bell Park, and numerous playgrounds for children to play on. The most exciting addition to East Winston, at least for children, is the water park, which stays full on a daily basis in the summer. I can’t forget the fun for the adults at the Winston Lake Golf Course, which is also full to capacity when the weather cooperates. 

News: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok

Having knowledge of the world around you is extremely important. The local, national, and international news keeps you ahead of the game and makes sure that you are not taken advantage of. Or you at least are in a better position to put up a fight. This knowledge is best acquired through the news, and in the early 1900s that only meant the newspaper, not TV, radio, or social media like we have today. 

Black Wall Street had two newspapers, but the most popular one was the “Tulsa Star.” It was founded by A.J. Smitherman, who was also a lawyer. He used the paper to inform the citizens of bills that, if passed into law, could be detrimental to African Americans. His newspaper stressed the importance of African Americans arming themselves with guns to protect themselves from those who hated them for their skin color. Smitherman also made it a point to push self-reliance so that those who lived in Greenwood could provide for themselves and help others to also achieve self-reliance. I loved his mindset of we are all stronger together. 

East Winston is home to a Black-owned newspaper as well, The award-winning Winston Salem Chronicle. The Chronicle started in 1974 and is still going strong today. Publisher James Taylor and the phenomenal team at The Chronicle keep the African American community and Winston-Salem as a whole up to date with news that is important to the advancement of Black people. The Chronicle writes the important stories and reports on the news that affects the Black community in the same way that A.J. Smitherman did.

For example, other newspapers in the city may not talk about the debt cancellation for Black farmers that was included in the latest stimulus bill, but The Chronicle will because it directly affects the financial wellbeing of its readers. The Chronicle is “our voice,” not only to this city, but thanks to its digital platform, it is also “our voice” to the state, nation, and the world.

Churches: The church is the cornerstone of many African American communities and that was evident in Greenwood. Vernon AME church was at the center of Black Wall Street and is still in existence today. I can just imagine families, especially the little girls, getting dressed to go to service on Sunday morning and probably in the evening as well. The singing, the Word being preached, the fellowship every Sunday is what everyone needed to start the week off right. 

East Winston has numerous churches. There has been a running joke since I was a little girl; “Don’t ever say you can’t find a church to go to in Winston-Salem, because I know you’re lying!” (As a little girl I could not say the word “lying,” so let’s go with “telling a story.”) There are African American churches in East Winston and Winston-Salem in general that have been around for more than a century. For example, Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Bishop Sherwood T. Davis has been standing strong for more than 129 years! Faith has been and will continue to be a cornerstone in the African American community.

Politics: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are on the menu.”- Ann Richards

City Council: The Winston-Salem City Council has two major responsibilities that affect all city residents, but definitely affects African Americans. Those responsibilities are approving the city budget and setting property taxes. Historically across the United States, the home values of African Americans have been undervalued when compared to the same type of home of a white American. Although you may look at this as “Well, African Americans will have lower property taxes, so that is good.” That is true if you only look at it on the surface. Lower home values make it harder for African Americans to build wealth. It was hard enough for African Americans to get homes because of redlining, but it is a slap in the face to finally get a home, only to have it’s value decreased. When you look at the power to approve city budgets, it is vital that there are line items in the budget that benefit all and not just the majority. Line items that bring the same amount of money and opportunity to the African American part of the city. Just looking at these two major responsibilities, you can see how important it is for African Americans to be represented on the city council. Four out of eight seats on the Winston Salem’s City Council are occupied by African Americans. Those council members are: James Taylor, Barbara H. Burke, Annette Scippio, and Denise D.  (DD) Adams, who also serves as the Mayor Pro Tempore. 

School Board: The school board has a long list of responsibilities and duties. They are in charge of approving the budget put forth by the superintendent. They approve the hiring of principals, teachers, and administrators, as well as set the timing of the opening and closing of the school year. African American representation on the school board will ensure that schools that are predominantly Black will receive the same funding and resources as schools that are not predominantly Black. In some instances, the board makes sure the schools receive more in funding because they don’t have the outside sources that other schools have such as booster clubs or financially well-off family members who give money to the school.

Winston-Salem is not where it needs to be when it comes to African American representation on the school board. The one bright side is that the chair is an African American, Shai Woodbury, and up until recently there was also an African American superintendent. There definitely needs to be improvement in this area to make sure that children, especially those in East Winston, are receiving equity in education.

Law Enforcement: Greenwood had their own law enforcement and they handled their own affairs. O.W. Gurley, who started Greenwood, was also the sheriff’s deputy and he worked with the white sheriff of Tulsa whenever needed. That working relationship successfully coexisted until white policemen wrongfully imprisoned a Black man from Black Wall Street for assaulting a white woman (which was a lie). 

Winston-Salem currently is living history when it comes to law enforcement. The police department is led by an African American woman, Chief Catrina Thompson, and the sheriff’s department is being led by an African American man, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough, Jr. In addition to Chief Thompson and Sheriff Kimbrough, there is Sergeant Dwayne Little, who oversees community outreach. Through the community outreach initiative, there have been multiple winter coat giveaways and community events for East Winston and surrounding areas. 

Those in Greenwood trusted their law enforcement because they knew that they were there to truly serve and protect. It is vital to have African American representation in law enforcement in order to have a chance at building trust within the African American community.

A Look at the Opportunities: Although East Winston has a lot of similarities to Black Wall Street, there are still some opportunities that can be taken advantage of going forward. These opportunities could help strengthen East Winston even more and put it in a more independent state similar to Greenwood. Some of those opportunities are: education, e-commerce, ownership, replication, and transportation.

Education: Education in Greenwood and even when I was growing up was non-negotiable. African Americans throughout history understood how important education was because having knowledge kept people from taking advantage of you. It was even more important to our great grandparents and grandparents because it was such an effort by racists to keep education from African Americans because those racists knew an educated people is an empowered people. Earlier I discussed how serious Black Wall Street was about educating their children, even to the point that they would make sure that teachers were highly paid. How can that type of thirst for education be achieved today in East Winston, as well as other predominantly African American communities around the country? It takes money, of course, but also collaboration to make sure that money has a 100-fold return on its investment. There are various ways that this can be achieved, but I want to just share a few. 

The first idea is already being achieved in a city in Ohio. The I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, is the brainchild of Lebron James. He and his team understand what numerous studies have said about the future success of children is determined in the early years of their education. The school was started to help children of families of limited income in Akron go to a school that was heavily resourced with materials and teachers who care. In addition to that, these children are learning in a beautiful state-of-the-art building that causes imaginations to soar! The school not only teaches core subjects, it also has wellness programs for the students, teachers, and parents because, let’s be real, children deal with a lot before they even come to school. So if their mental/emotional concerns can be eased, then learning has a better chance of happening. 

On top of all of this, when the students graduate from high school they have the opportunity for a full ride scholarship to the University of Akron!

My suggestion for elementary schools in East Winston is to attempt to follow the same model and even take it up a notch. There are multimillionaires and foundations in Winston-Salem that could put the amount of money needed toward a Winston-Salem type “I Promise School.” Money to improve the current facilities, provide all materials needed, especially physical books for every subject, wellness programs, and a tutoring program. Not just any tutoring program, but a paid tutoring program that is in partnership with the education majors at Winston Salem State University. Each semester, education majors in various subjects who have a passion to work in elementary education can be assigned to tutor at the elementary schools. It is a win win situation. The college students get real-world application of what they have been taught in the classroom and the elementary students get representation. Although the number of African American men in the classroom is growing the numbers are still not there, so having male students come in to work with the students could be the visual and encouragement students need to go to the next level academically.

The last idea that I will leave you with comes directly from Black Wall Street itself. That idea is to pay teachers a higher salary. Greenwood understood that teachers are educating the future and that is a heavy load to carry, so they paid them for it. Also, these students were not just learning math and science, but they were also learning trade skills. Trade skills that complemented what they learned in science and English. Skills need to be taught to all children, once again because we have arrived at a point that adults don’t know how to change a tire, grow food, or even cook a basic meal seven days a week. Greenwood was about a complete education in both academics, as well as life and I believe that is the cheat code for the elementary schools in East Winston.

E-Commerce: Today business is global and if your business doesn’t have an e-commerce component, then you are working with one hand tied behind your back. E-commerce allows you to serve your local customers and community, as well as customers around the world. Some of the businesses I mentioned earlier, like Body and Soul that are located in East Winston, have a website that people can order from at any time of the day. There are even businesses like Cam’s Coffee that are completely e-commerce and have customers around the world.

Almost any business can have an e-commerce side. A restaurant can ship its signature sauce. A beauty salon could sell his hair growing oil to women on the other side of the ocean. There are infopreneurs that are selling their brain from the comfort of their home. Although I speak around the world about financial literacy, I still make thousands of dollars selling my books and online courses through e-commerce. So many opportunities can be taken advantage of with the use of e-commerce. I believe if more business owners in East Winston would take advantage of e-commerce, they would be able to grow their businesses substantially.

Ownership: “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”- Toni Morrison

Ms. Morrison was saying a word there! O.W. Gurley and everyone who came to Greenwood knew they were free, but also knew they needed to do something with that freedom. Everyone got to work as soon as they arrived to Black Wall Street and they built their lives from scratch there, as well as their wealth. They knew that idle hands were poor hands.They understood ownership at its highest level and operated at that level from the beginning. They owned their hotels, their professional offices, their airport, their buses, their schools, their town! 

Most importantly, they owned their homes. Home ownership in this country is the fastest way to wealth, if it is done right. I don’t want to talk about buying a home as much as I want to speak about keeping the homes that have already been purchased. To build generational wealth with real estate as a part of it, African Americans must make sure to keep every home in the family. 

Back to East Winston. There are many homes in East Winston that have been around for decades and have been owned by the same person. Unfortunately, at some point that owner will age to the point of having to go into a nursing home facility or they may pass away. Here is where generational wealth can be built or lost. If family members don’t have money to pay the mortgage or pay the mortgage off altogether, then the house will have to be sold and all that value and money disappears. 

The goal is to be in position to financially keep the house in the family. Not only that house, but every house to be kept in a family real estate portfolio. This doesn’t mean that you are sharing the value in the houses, but what it means is that if you are in the McWillis family, we keep our houses around here and don’t sell it to outsiders. For those who own homes in East Winston and other predominantly Black communities across the country, you can help your family out in this process. 

How you ask? By having adequate insurance. Insurance that if something happens to you, there is enough money to pay for your funeral and pay off your home and any other debts. I will not tell you what insurance to get, but I will tell you not to get whole life (cash value). Insurance is for protection, it is not an investment vehicle.

Now let’s talk about investing. Before we get started, I am not a financial advisor so this is not advice. I just know what I am talking about and want to share that knowledge with you. Investing is one of the most powerful tools that can make your money grow fast. I am talking about real investing that is done with an investment firm, not investing by way of one of your family members telling you to DM them on social media for an amazing opportunity (insert rolled eyes).

Gone are the days of pensions and you cannot depend on Social Security, so you need to be saving for your retirement on your own. Work with a licensed financial advisor who can walk you through your options. You can look into an IRA, Roth IRA, Roth 401K (your job), 401K (your job), 403b (your job), 529 (for college savings), and ETF. You will notice that I did not mention crypto, life insurance, individual stocks, forex, or NFT, and that is because I want you to keep it simple. Mutual funds are simple. 

Investing allows you to build wealth that can be used in retirement and also passed down in an inheritance to your children. Speaking of children, a 529 plan can help create generational wealth as well. African American women are the most educated group in America, but also have the most student loan debt. That debt keeps us from buying homes, investing, and participating in the American dream of building wealth. To truly participate in ownership, you can’t have tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt hanging over your head. So here is what I suggest the families in East Winston and the African American community in general do to start their adult lives off on the right foot financially. You may have not gone to college or maybe you graduated from college with a lot of debt that you are still paying off. If you have children or nieces and nephews, they don’t have to follow the same path. I speak to over 10,000 high school and college students a year about financial literacy. I show them how I paid off $50,000 of debt in two years. But I also show them how they can financially afford college. 

Here are three tips that you can use:

1. Apply for scholarships non-stop. There are scholarships for six year olds, so children are never too young to get free money for college. As long as you are in school, you should be going after free money. Scholly is a Black-owned app that helps students find scholarships and has found millions of dollars for students to go to school.

2. Go to a school you can afford. I always hear students say they want to go to their dream college, but don’t have no dream college money. Outside of a house, college is the most expensive decision you will make in life,, so you can’t go into it lightly. It is fine if you want to go to your dream school for $40,000 a year, but you need to find $40K a year in scholarships. If you don’t, you will come out of college owing $200,000 and making $50,000 a year. I promise you that will never get paid off and it will keep you from financially living your dreams.

3. Build connections while in college. I’m sure you have heard the saying “It is not what you know, but who you know.” It is actually “who knows you!” Getting a degree is one thing, knowing someone on the inside of a company that can get your resume to the hiring manager is game, set, match!

Bonus Tip: For students in East Winston and predominantly Black communities around the country, consider attending a HBCU (Historically Black College & University). I went to South Carolina State University and I can tell you personally that at a HBCU, you will find a family atmosphere. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the award-winning Belcher Hall School of Business!

There are two areas of ownership that East Winston could work on to look more like Greenwood. Black Wall Street had its own airport that was used to get citizens back and forth to Greenwood. There is an airport in East Winston that does mostly private chartered flights, but it is not Black owned and that is an opportunity that should be looked into going forward. 

Lastly, health is wealth. Therefore it is important that a community, especially one that is African American, have control over the food that is sold to them. O.W. Gurley built the first grocery store in Greenwood and so the food was coming from someone who looked like everyone else in the town. Right now in East Winston, there are no Black-owned grocery stores and that means that any type of food could be coming in. African Americans lead in heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, so we can’t afford not to have our food in our control. 

I spoke briefly in the education section about the necessity of children learning how to grow their own food and the reason I mentioned that strategy is so that if they can’t find nutritious food in their community, they can grow it themselves. The good thing is that there are a few Black farmers who are in the middle of neighborhoods throughout East Winston who grow food and sell the food to those in the community. It would be great if these farmers could teach others how to grow their own food, then an entire community could be fed!

Replication: There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Look at what has worked in the past and adjust it for the present day. I want to discuss the most important characteristic of Black Wall Street that I think can and SHOULD be replicated today. That characteristic was the circulation of the Black dollar. The Black dollar today only circulates six hours within the Black community before going out. In Black Wall Street, the Black dollar circulated THIRTY TIMES before it left! 

African Americans would go into Tulsa and work for white people, get paid and bring that money back to Greenwood and spend it among those who respected them. They understood you never spend your money with people who don’t respect you as a human being. That same energy should still exist today, no matter the company. By doing this simple strategy it helped Greenwood grow into Black Wall Street.

So how can this be replicated today in an integrated world? 

We all are working either for ourselves or for other people, but the disconnect from Black Wall Street is that we are not being intentional with our money. We are not spending it with Black-owned businesses, nonprofits, and Black politicians (who have our best interest at heart). 

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”- John F. Kennedy

East Winston and other Black communities cannot rise to Black Wall Street status without putting more money back into the community. Those who live in East Winston and even the African Americans who don’t live there, must pour their money and other resources back into the area if we want to see the generational wealth of Greenwood. You can do this Black Wall Street strategy on a local level as well as on a global level and that circulation of thirty times may jump to 60 times or more!

Let me show you how.

A few months ago I took some time and really thought about how I spend my money and if I spent money with Black owned businesses and nonprofits. 

This is what I found.

Locally I spend money with Body and Soul, Sweet Potatoes, Miss Oras, Lizzie’s All Natural Products (Skincare) , Jodi Brim Photography, Bond Basketball tournaments, Cam’s Coffee, Lean Back Soulfood, The Geek In Heels, Taste Of The Triad, Forsyth Seafood, Bygood Coffee, Twin City Fitness, Evette P. (hair dresser), James (lawn), JJ’s Plumbing, Lei Lei’s Bakery, Ta’Nisha Cupcakes, Brunswick Candle, CoCo By Nature, and Tennis For Life.

Globally my money goes to Women Ceo Project (Business Coaching), Lead Book Tax, Mielle, Butter Bar Skincare, Able Office, Six Figure Chick, Take Me Away Essentials, Cedric Brown Collections, Copper and Brass, and many more!

I send my money to local and global Black-run non-profits as well. Those non-profits are Lead Girls Of NC, I Am A Queen, Beautiful Butterflies, Polished Pebbles, Winston Salem Urban League, South Carolina State University and more. Other than non-profits, I also contribute to political campaigns of African American candidates who have a platform I agree with. This list alone is over thirty. Just imagine if they did the same on their end –  East Winston and African American communities across the country would flourish year after year.

Transportation: The last opportunity I will touch on is transportation and how it is vital for upward economic mobility. Black Wall Street had a transportation system that helped their citizens get from place to place. Having a reliable transportation system could mean the difference between working a $10-an-hour job or a $20-an-hour job. Winston-Salem’s transportation system needs improvement and those who would benefit the most from that improvement are the ones suffering now, those in East Winston who have to ride the bus to get around.

I have heard many people say that they have not been able to take higher paying jobs because those jobs were not on the bus route. If they were able to get to the job, they would be able to make enough money to buy a car and get off the bus for good. 

Another downside is the amount of time it takes to get where you need to go on the bus. A transportation study was done locally and the amount of time taken out of the life of bus riders each year just to get 15 minutes across town is horrendous! 

My idea comes directly from Black Wall Street. Build a transportation system that gets your citizens to the opportunities that are available. I know of at least two high paying companies fifteen minutes from East Winston that the bus system does not come to. If it did, it would result in limited income individuals moving into a higher tax bracket. That is upward economic mobility solved with one new bus route. 

This could also be an opportunity for an entrepreneur to solve a problem and create a transportation service that runs routes between East Winston and those jobs on a daily basis. Or those companies that are hungry for workers could create their own van service to go back and forth to East Winston.

The solution is really that simple.

I could go on and on about Black Wall Street, East Winston, and their similarities. I am extremely passionate about closing the wealth gap and the racial wealth gap. What I have shared in the piece is only the tip of the iceberg of what it will take to close the gap. Greenwood showed African Americans what is possible with determination and unity. 

People who built Black Wall Street were one generation removed from slavery and even some had been freed from slavery. They had NOTHING, but because they, their parents, and grandparents had built this country for free, they knew they had the ability to use those same skills and intelligence to build a place of their own. 

They built a Mecca of Black wealth and they did it in fifteen years. Fifteen years! Can you imagine how East Winston could look in fifteen years if the community hyper-focused on growth and building wealth? 

Can you imagine if that focus was inside each and every African American community across the country?

All it takes is focus and determination.

Are we focused?

Are we determined?

Greenwood gave us the roadmap. Now it is time to execute and I promise you this time no one is going to burn nothing down. No one.

Ja’Net Adams is a professional international speaker, author, and the CEO of EMACK Consulting. When she was in college she let money rule her life. She graduated from South Carolina State University with a bachelor of science degree in marketing and nearly $50,000 in debt. She dug herself out of the debt in two years by following the principles that she now speaks around the world about to audiences, including corporations, universities, and high schools, sharing her knowledge of financial literacy. 

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors