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. Watch the 2016 trailer here:
As a result of Black Wall Street Homecoming’s success, business leaders have asked us to expand the reach of the organization to other communities. Austin [SXSW 2016] will be our newest community, followed by Washington DC in the late spring and culminating with our annual Black Wall Street Homecoming event in Durham this fall.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share that this SXSW will be shadowed by a cloud of sadness as we will have to celebrate without Hank Williams, who passed away last year. Hank was a pioneer in the tech world, both as an entrepreneur as well as the founder of the Platform Summit which brought together the best and brightest leaders throughout the globe to learn from one another and create long lasting ties. Hank’s spirit of giving // expanding networks will live on during SXSW. We will make sure of it!
This year I will be flying into Austin with the new KING, Anderson Paak and Kendrick albums reverberating in my headphones. If you are in town, please email Talib@bwshomecoming to connect and grab a coffee or cocktail. Salut.
Pictured above, left to right, are organizers and speakers at last fall’s Black Wall Street Homecoming: Jesica Averhart, Sherrell Dorsey, Divine, Talib Graves-Manns, Brandon Terrell and Rodney Sampson.