Black Wall Street Homecoming connects entrepreneurship and culture

September 28, 2018

Black Wall Street connects culture and entrepreneurship

Black Wall Street Homecoming, an annual conference in Durham for entrepreneurs, focuses on creating space that encourages culture, connections, content and, of course, capital.

“Conferences like this is sort of what brings people together to say that we’re here,” dance studio owner Nicole Oxedine said Thursday. “There’s a common ground, and we honor the history of what we can do.”

Oxedine owns Empower Dance Studio in Durham’s historic Black Wall Street district.

As black woman and business owner, she said she’s faced questions about her place in the entrepreneurial world.

“What is it that I can accomplish, or what am I able to do, or even the questions of, how did you get here?” Oxedine said.

But Black Wall Street Homecoming is a chance to see the vast possibilities for minority businesses owners and to glean from those who’ve charted similar paths.

Entrepreneur Arlan Hamilton’s story of going from food stamps to building a venture capital fund is seen as the poster child of possibilities.

“I know that there are people in that situation right now, and it’s a lifeline,” Hamilton said. “It’s just a, ‘it’s going to be OK.’ Or, ‘there’s a chance that this is going to work out.’”

Hamilton’s firm, Backstage Capital, will invest $36 million entirely in black women-led startups.

“Let’s put them on the same footing and see what happens,” Hamilton said. “To me, if you don’t put them on the same footing and you’re able to, what that tells me is that you’re afraid of them. You’re afraid that they will beat you.”

Ultimately, Black Wall Street Homecoming is a reflection of its namesake: Durham’s historic Black Wall Street.

Co-founder Dee McDougal said it’s a nod to history and a sense of anticipation of what entrepreneurs like Oxedine and Hamilton can do.

“We have to know our worth,” McDougal said, “know our value and kind of keep blazing trails like Arlan has to be able to have seats at the table.”

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