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Tyrance Billingsley II: City has opportunity to reinvest its economic commitment to Black Tulsans

Tyrance Billingsley II: City has opportunity to reinvest its economic commitment to Black Tulsans

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Billingsley

By Tyrance Billingsley II

Nearly 100 years ago, Tulsa’s once-thriving Black community and its robust economic standing were leveled by white mobs during what is known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Those harboring malevolent intent inflicted both communal and socioeconomic wounds that have since yet to heal.

We will never know Black Wall Street’s potential if not for the events that took place in the Greenwood District. A independent location of innovation and entrepreneurship was stolen from the descendants of all Oklahomans.

We have a responsibility to learn from the past. It’s time to truly study the innovation that catalyzed Black Wall Street and enabled it to thrive despite racism and disenfranchisement.

The city is currently positioned to become what it always should have been — a hub for technological innovation led by Black Tulsans through the idea of “Black Tech Street.”

Over the last 13 months, industry and philanthropic leaders have heard my vision for how we can make Black Tech Street a reality.

Building off the foundation laid by the economic pioneers of Black Wall Street, Black Tech Street will be a self-sustaining ecosystem of Black talent, businesses and technological advances that will improve every facet of our economy.

Black Tech Street has a primary objective to facilitate $1 billion in investments through grants, community, entrepreneurial development and education over the next decade.

Tulsa could become a source of desired investment opportunities, talent and innovation if that support becomes a reality.

Tulsa will move closer to the idea of “what could have been” that lives in the minds of all who are heirs to the legacy of the original Greenwood community.

As a son of Greenwood, this vision is deeply personal. The untapped potential that lives within my community is great.

The children of Greenwood will always be best suited to carry their ancestors’ torch. The leaders we need are already here.

This is why Black Tech Street is more than an economic venture. It is my way of paying tribute to all those who came before me and whose dreams were cut short. It is for all who are fighting in a world of unjust systemic barriers that have left Black-owned businesses disproportionately at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But through the efforts of Black Tech Street, Tulsa’s Black community will be better prepared to weather whatever storm comes next.

This is Tulsa’s opportunity to become what it hopes to be when the world is watching next year.

Let’s stop performing and start becoming.


Featured video: Tulsa Race Massacre: This is what happened in Tulsa in 1921

A history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Tyrance Billingsley II is a Tulsa native, entrepreneur and founder of Black Tech Street.

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