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HBCU Students To Attend President Obama’s South by South Lawn Event

Black Wall Street and American Underground Partner to Bring Local College Students to First-Ever South by South Lawn Event at White House to Promote Diversity Within Technology Ecosystem

Black Wall Street, a Durham-based organization dedicated to increasing the number of minority entrepreneurs who successfully grow scalable businesses, and American Underground, a Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub, will host a cohort of fourteen students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for a trip to the White House for South by South Lawn (SXSL) on Monday, October 3, 2016.

Described as a festival of “ideas, art and action,” SXSL is presented by the American Film Institute (AFI), the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the National Park Foundation, and South by Southwest®. President Obama is scheduled to join actor/activist Leonardo DiCaprio for a panel during the day’s events.

The White House received over 20,000 applications to attend South by South Lawn. The BWS application stood out, as it was an extension of a campaign launched earlier in the year, Black Wall Street: Spring Break, which includes a charge to area HBCUs to send more students to the annual South By Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. SXSW offers exposure to conversations around innovation and technology trends, career opportunities, and the power of networking. BWS cofounder Talib Graves-Manns promoted his submission to attend SXSL on Twitter, and was contacted by White House staff for additional information, netting the invitation for the group of students and BWS cofounding team.

The students attend Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University and Shaw University.


SXSL will be live-streamed on and Event hashtag is #SXSL. Follow event hosts on social: Black Wall Street – @Black_WallSt (Twitter) and @TheBlackWallStreet (Facebook); American Underground – @AmerUnderground (Twitter) and @AmericanUnderground (Facebook) .

About Black Wall Street
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.

About American Underground
The American Underground, a Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub, is where smart startups grow and thrive. Deemed the “Startup Capital of the South,” American Underground is located in downtown Durham, NC. The American Underground is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC). American Underground guests include TechCrunch), TIME Magazine, NPR’s Marketplace Tech, The Atlantic, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, G.E.’s Jeff Immelt, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and investor Steve Case among others.

Durham, North Carolina, September 23, 2016 – Black Wall Street (BWS), a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of minority entrepreneurs who successfully grow scalable businesses, is pleased to announce Magic Johnson Enterprises as the presenting sponsor for its “Pitch, Please!” competition. Contestants will compete for a cash prize and package of services curated specifically for early-stage entrepreneurs. The competition will take place on October 13, 2016 as part of the group’s BWS: Homecoming event in Durham.

“We are honored to support Black Wall Street’s efforts of increasing access to capital for minority entrepreneurs, as it closely aligns with our mission of fostering community and economic empowerment within multicultural communities,” said Christina Francis, SVP of Marketing and Communications at Magic Johnson Enterprises.  “We look forward to meeting the talent BWS: Homecoming will bring together and offering our expertise to help them achieve their goals of growing successful businesses.”

Applications will be accepted through the BWS website and six teams will be selected to deliver four-minute pitches, followed by four minutes of questions and answers from pitch judges. Pitching founders/teams must present their technology or tech-enabled company to a panel of venture capital investors, founders and industry supporters without presentation decks or product demonstrations. To participate, entrepreneurs must also register to attend BWS: Homecoming programming. Applications are due no later than September 30, 2016.

The competition offers entrepreneurs of color the opportunity to take the stage to deliver their pitches, seek funding from investors and receive invaluable access to coaches, mentors and the nation’s foremost venture capitalists.

The lineup of venture capital and angel investors attending BWS: Homecoming include:

About Black Wall Street

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.

About Magic Johnson Enterprises

Magic Johnson Enterprises, formed in 1987, serves as a catalyst for community and economic empowerment by making available high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse urban communities. Through investment, partnership and consultation, Magic Johnson Enterprises has a portfolio of companies that strategically work together to reinforce the organization’s focus on serving emerging, multicultural communities. Learn more:

Black Wall Street (BWS), a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the number of minority entrepreneurs who successfully grow scalable businesses, today announced the return of its signature event, Black Wall Street: Homecoming. The three-day series of conference programming and networking events will take place October 12-14 at various venues in Downtown Durham, on and around Parrish Street, home of Durham’s historic Black Wall Street district.

BWS: Homecoming brings together black founders, investors and members of the larger technology/venture capital ecosystem in a unique and intimate setting. Designed to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to exchange ideas with peers and subject matter experts, plus connect with angel and institutional investors through non-stop networking, the three-day event includes a pitch competition, panel discussions, fireside chats, keynote speeches, office hours and parties.

“Durham is a special place with a rich history of entrepreneurship and community,” said Talib Graves-Manns, BWS co-founder and CODE2040 alumni. “We are excited to build on the history of the original Black Wall Street, taking the same principles that made the area successful – innovation, community, entrepreneurship – and applying them to today’s conversation around diversity to help future generations of ethnically diverse entrepreneurs. We are in a great position to get the right people in the room to help move things forward, and hopefully get some deals done.”

BWS: Homecoming features top speakers who will discuss key issues and topics of interest to early-stage entrepreneurs. In addition to panel participants, speakers include Chaucer Barnes, SVP + executive director, Context Strategy of Translation; Diishan Imira, CEO of Mayvenn; Marlon Nichols, founder and general partner of Cross Culture Ventures; Phil Freelon, managing and design director at Perkins+Will and the architect behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Rodney Williams, CEO of LISNR; and Tiffany Norwood, Georgetown University Entrepreneur-in-Residence and founder of Tribetan.

Marlon Nichols, founder and general partner of Cross Culture Ventures, added, “When I visited Durham last year for Black Wall Street: Homecoming, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleased to see and experience first-hand the area’s creative approach to driving entrepreneurship, innovation and inclusion – a mission that closely aligns with my desire to support and invest in diverse entrepreneurial talent. I’m excited to make the trip again this year, and look forward to meeting talented entrepreneurs and learning more about the young companies and technologies they are building.”

In addition to content and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and the community, BWS is also pleased to present its first Black Wall Street: Tech Futures event, a Virtual Reality experience for youth, in partnership with Google Fiber, Moogfest, Life on Autopilot, BlackSpace, Village of Wisdom and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham. Focused on education and experience, the afternoon mini-session will introduce Durham youth to virtual reality technology and career path opportunities.

To register, and for more information on the event, speakers, agenda and BWS, visit

BWS: Homecoming is sponsored by Google Fiber, Translation, Square 1 Bank, North Carolina Central University, American Underground, Kompleks Creative, Mechanics & Farmers Bank and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

About Black Wall Street
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.

It’s no secret that entrepreneurs of color are chronically underrepresented in tech. Much like the ailings of our students, entrepreneurs often come to us with feelings of exclusion and alienation. While being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster in its own right, members of our community are more likely to be navigating the market without adequate funding, space to grow, or mentorship. Put concretely: currently less than one percent of Seed and Series A funding is awarded to Black and/or Latino/a founders. In a nation where the combined buying power of Black and Latino/a communities equals over one trillion dollars, we find that lack of support and representation to be troubling.

Fortunately, a lot has begun to change. Programs specifically focused on helping first time minority entrepreneurs have sprouted all over the United States. Hubs and world class accelerators have offered office hours directly targeted at underrepresented entrepreneurs and their companies. Last year, we brought three Entrepreneurs in Residence from three American cities together in the first cohort of the CODE2040 Residency. Based on their experiences, we’ve partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs to expand that program to seven cities this year.

Talib Graves-Manns was one of three original CODE2040 Entrepreneurs in Residence. Completing his year and a half long Residency in Durham, North Carolina, we’ve watched he and the other members of cohort one take amazing steps with their communities and companies alike. In the final days to apply for the 2016 Residency, we asked Talib what it’s really like to be part of the program.

What prompted you to apply to the Residency?

I was visiting Silicon Valley wrapping up a fundraising round around the time of the Residency Program Application announcement and met some members of the CODE2040 team. Within a few minutes of talking to the CODE2040 team members, I knew that these were the caliber of people that I wanted to align with.

Upon returning to North Carolina, I completed my due diligence on the history and mission of the org and applied the next day!

What is a day in the life of an EIR like?

My Day = Business + Community Development + More Business.

And if you get it right, an EIR can have their ‘cake and eat it too’. (As my Grandparents use to say).

Why are programs like the Residency important?

It gives entrepreneurs in communities across the US access to the national start-up scene and resources. Too much of the business support and capital in the tech space is concentrated in the Silicon Valley — that suffocates growth and innovation. In order for the nation to grow, entities outside of the Valley must be fertilized.

What advice would you give other applicants/entrepreneurs of color?

A simple quote, “Everything you see is just a thought manifested.” Go into the world and manifest your dreams while helping others manifest theirs.

(One more thing — if you don’t get selected this round, try and figure out a way to support the EIR and Community in your town! It will pay off in Spades!)

When I was 25 years old I received the worst advice of my life. This advice came from one my closest mentors, this mentor was approx fifteen years older than me and had met significant business success, so I listened and took his advice to heart.

The BAD Advice WAS — “People Don’t Take You Serious Until You are 30 Years Old”.

The BETTER Advice would have been — “People Take You Serious When You Take Yourself Serious”.

When I received this bad advice at the impressionable age of 25, I took it as gospel — as it came from one of my dearest mentors. And over the course of the next 5 years I figured hell — just keep working and “paying my dues” — and eventually an older person (someone in “authority” will give me a great opportunity in a job or venture funding to start something new).

It should be noted that I began purchasing residential investment property at 26 years old, two years before the ‘bubble’ {that’s another blog post…}. But I am left to wonder how my experience would have been different given better advice as I was beginning to get my feet wet in business. Maybe I would have approached lenders with more authority + negotiated better terms, or been more bullish in my strategy — the truth is that I just kind of coasted along without much friction in my business transactions. What would have happened if I were an empowered 25-year-old investor?

Regarding BETTER advice — just look around for perspective. Young people are doing amazing things — matter of fact — they ARE changing the world! I see it in real-time, whether it is in Silicon Valley on Sand Hill Road, College Classrooms in Durham, or in Gymnasiums in Philadelphia — our young talent are equipped with the tools, creativity, and innovative entrepreneurial mind to IMPROVE the world.

If you are faced with someone offering you shitty advice, ask them to tell you how old Zuckerburg was when he created the Facebook that they login 15 times a day, or the age of Morgan DeBaun, the Founder of Blavity.

In closing I am asking the older generation to not let your personal experiences and limitations mire the advice you give the younger generations. And I am asking the younger generations to question the intentions and push the boundaries of those placing limtations on you.

Be Taken Seriously as a Young Business Leader — Some Tips from Entrepenuer Magazine. — We all need coaching.

Full disclaimer this advisor did go on to offer some good advice along the way — however this particular piece of advice, was shitty advice.


Coming back from SXSW 2016, I felt the need to do more — to have a broader impact on black college students’ exposure to entrepreneurship and ultimately their career trajectory. That’s why I made the “pledge” to NCCU, Hampton and North Carolina A&T to bring five exceptional business or engineering students to attend SXSW 2017 as a guest of Black Wall Street. [Read more on charge in the second of this three-part series.]

*Originally Published in Exit Event.

As the famous idiom goes “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”, and as we say in Hip-Hop culture via re-appropriation, “A Picture is Worth a Billion Bucks”.

Remember these two historical dates — August 12, 1958 and March 13, 2016.

On the first date, history was made in New York when a group of jazz musicians united on a block in Harlem to take what would become a photo of “legend” (above). I consider it safe to say that the genius of the men and women in this image was broadly known by black culture and jazz enthusiasts.

On the other hand, I would argue that they were not much more than a blip on the conscience of the world outside of the closed room jazz sessions, speakeasys or the weekly Cotton Club performances in Philly, Baltimore, NYC and Chicago. But however obscure these people were during the shooting of this image, many would grow to super stardom. Pictured above are Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver and Mary Lou Williams. Like many other ‘greats’, these musicians practiced and instituted the 10,000-hour rule to reach the pinnacles of success in music.

In a similar vein to the black music and art renaissance, we have a contemporary group of Black Genius practicing their 10,000 hours in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology. Their faces came together during the 2016 SXSW Interactive in Austin.

On March 13, 2016, history was made again by hundreds of black entrepreneurs and technology workers at The Urban Co-Lab in Austin Texas. They include Jewel Burksof Partpic, Angel Rich of The Wealth Factory, Michael Hall of Digital Grass, Natalie Cofield of Urban Co-Lab, Shark Tank consultant Brandon Andrews, Ofo Ezeugwuof WhoseYourLandlord, Dawn Dickson of Flat Out of Heels and Brian Williams of Purchase Black.

My point in writing this article is straight-forward — the genius is plentiful — just look at these two photos. And note that thousands of photos were taken during SXSW — these exhibit just a fraction of the Black Genius on display during SXSW 2016.

The photo above was taken at the SXSW #WeDC House on March 13, 2016. And the narrative of the people in the photo present some important connection points:

If you need:

Funding — Check for Jason Towns of The Towns Group LLC.
Co-working Space — Check for Natalie Cofield of the Urban Co-Lab (Austin).
Business Boot Camp — Check for Michael Hall of Digi Grass.
Tech Editorial Writing — Check for Sherrell Dorsey
Diversity in Hiring — Check for Stephanie Lampkin of Blendoor.
Co-working Space — Check for Aaron Saunders of Luma Lab (D.C/Howard University)
Impact on Black Girl Education — Check for Marissa Jennings of Socialgrlz.
Tech & Innovation Support — Check for Erin Horne McKinney of the Office of the Mayor (D.C).
Literacy Education Tech — Check for Gil Perkins of Words Liive.
Innovation in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems — Check for Joey Womack ofAmplify 4 Good.

As the discussions about equality and inclusion regarding Blacks in tech-related entrepreneurship continue to flood our timelines, let’s take a minute to shine the floodlights on the brave entrepreneurs that are forgoing large salaries, job security and immediate gratification to build companies for the future. These are the companies that will continue to make America great.

I look forward to seeing everyone again next year in Austin. In the meantime, please remember one thing —

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

Talib Graves-Manns, Contributor

Talib Graves-Manns is the Entrepreneur in Residence with Google for Entrepreneurs and Code2040 at the American Underground in Durham. Talib is the co-founder of three businesses: Point AB, Life on Autopilot and Black Wall Street Homecoming. Across all three organizations, he is responsible for business strategy and growth. He is an expert in problem solving and new product introduction.

This is part one of a three-part series about the Black Wall Street experience and diversity and inclusion programming at South by Southwest 2016.

2016 will mark my fourth South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

What started out as an obligatory ‘typical work conference’ in 2011 has become my most highly anticipated annual event. The SXSW conference has been the catalyzing event for me—one that has increased my desire to build great innovative companies, while meeting new creatives and founders in the Austin Convention Center and on the streets of Austin.

Over the years at SXSW, I have learned from a variety of experiences including Baratunde Thurston’s ‘How to Be Black’ book discussion, conversations on the commercialization of IoT, 3D Printers and how to employ ‘R’ for Big Data analysis, and the Words Liive launch in 2015. And every year I leave encouraged and inspired to build, build, build.

Yet, however inspiring the past years have been, this year will be especially significant, as it is the year I will celebrate my one-year anniversary of being selected as the Google for Entrepreneurs + Code2040 Entrepreneur in Residence at American Underground.Additionally I am part of a team introducing Black Wall Street to the world stage of SXSW 2016.

We are bringing Black Wall Street to SXSW through partnerships with Opportunity Hub from Atlanta, MVMT50 and the WeDC House of Washington D.C. This means that our team, consisting of Jesica Averhart of American Underground, Tobias Rose of Kompleks Creative and Dee McDougal of Square 1 Bank will be in the ‘mix’ discussing the impact of our platform’s mission: ‘The celebration of historical business feats within the African-American community, while ushering in the future of modern-day business innovation and new capital networks to fuel growth.’

Our goal in attending SXSW is to expand the network effect & impact of Black Wall Street’s mission through partnerships—and to invite our new friends to Durham in the fall for the annual BWS Homecoming events.

Black Wall Street Homecoming is a three-day event that originated in Durham in 2015, and boasted over 400 guests, $100 million in VC networks, seven business pitches, new connections and impressions that will last for years to come.

‘From Main Street to Tech Suite’ 400 Guests, $100MM Venture Capital, Business Pitch, Community Support’

Thanks again for supporting the Black Wall Street Homecoming inaugural event in downtown Durham N.C. this past Fall 2015. We hope you enjoy the Trailer Video. Black Wall Street Homecoming was a huge success. Over the course of two days — we brought out over 400 Guests, $100 Million in Venture Capital, discussed the Mayvenn Hair deal, careers in venture capital, local startup pitching, and curated new friendships! Watch the Trailer Video!

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The Black Wall Street team is planning events for SXSW 2016 in Austin T.X. as well as Washington D.C. for May 2016. Our team is currently looking for sponsors and collaborators, please email to discuss in more detail.

Please Spread the Word. ‘From Main Street to Tech Suite’

Special Thank You to Our Organizing Team — Jesica Averhart, Tobias Rose, Dee McDougal and Talib Graves-Manns as well our Distinguished Guests (Trevor Thomas, Marlon Nichols, Stefanie Thomas, Zack Mansfield) (Cross Culture VC, Impact America Fund VC, Square 1 Bank, Translation LLC):