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When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books You will be reading meanings.- W.E.B. Du Bois

Maude Okrah during Black Wall Street: DC
Maude Okrah pitches Bonti during the "Pitch Please!" competition at Black Wall Street: DC in July 2016.

Our Story

Black Wall Street (BWS) celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship within diverse, multicultural communities. Created in honor and as an extension of what was built during the heyday of Durham, NC’s Parrish Street, BWS creates conversations and promotes thought leadership around diversity, technology and entrepreneurship. No matter the city or decade, the spirit of Black Wall Street remains the same – building communities and wealth through business ownership. BWS is the remix. Same vision. New day.

The numbers for African-Americans within the venture capital/technology ecosystem are dismal: just 1% of startups have founding black teams, and fewer than 1% of tech companies with black founders receive venture capital funding. BWS exists to provide founders with access to capital networks – to be part of the conversation – and investors with access to deal flow outside their typical referral networks.

Black Wall Street (BWS) is a North Carolina nonprofit corporation.



Jesica Averhart

Executive Director of Leadership Triangle, a non-profit established to educate and develop leaders that elevate regional thought-leadership and activate change. Previously, Jesica served as the Director of Corporate Partnerships for Capitol Broadcasting - working with the American Underground and American Tobacco.  Over the last 5 years, Jes has bridged the relationships between the good work taking place within the community (both public and private) and the ideation taking place daily between companies. Originally from Evansport, Ohio, a small village of 200 people located 45 min southwest of Toledo, Jes had the good fortune of working on her grandparents farm while at the same time, learning the ropes in the family's real estate and appraisal business.  She was the first in her family to accept a corporate role after college by taking a position as a financial analyst at GE Transportation. It didn't take long before she started her own company, making her a 4th generation entrepreneur.

Talib Graves-Manns

Talib Graves-Manns

Co-owner of PointAB, a marketing and strategy consultancy. 2015-2016 Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Google for Entrepreneurs and Code2040 at American Underground. A fourth-generation entrepreneur with deep Durham roots and a self-described “Blue-Blood Hustle” — the desire to build businesses and increase access to capital for innovative start-ups and traditional businesses. Talib is also co-founder of Life on Autopilot, a brand focused on the creation of innovative, stylish and handcrafted premium luggage products for the discriminating modern traveler.

Dee McDougal

Dee McDougal

Senior Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Pacific Western Bank, a leading national provider of commercial banking services to startups, small and medium-sized businesses, and their investors. Dee leads Pacific Western Bank’s corporate diversity and inclusion strategy, focusing on creating innovative, sustainable plans and programs that promote diversity and inclusion.

Her volunteer roles and efforts also include Board Member and Treasurer of the Empower Dance Foundation, Board Member and Philanthropy Chair at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, classroom advisor with Junior Achievement of Eastern North and pro-bono communications counsel to the CEO/Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties.

Tobias Rose

Tobias Rose

Principal and Creative Director of Kompleks Creative, a Downtown Durham communications agency specializing in graphic design and web development, as well as digital marketing and strategy. Tobias founded Kompleks ten years ago with the goal of developing a studio with a heavy focus on exploring innovative creative solutions. He also teaches at UNC Chapel Hill, serves on the Board of Visitors for the NCCU College of Arts and Sciences, and on the Regional Advisory Board for the National Society of Black Engineers.

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