"We've got to strengthen Black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in the Tri-State Bank. We want a 'bank-in' movement in Memphis... We [must] begin the process of building a greater economic base."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968
As Forward Cities embarks on an unprecedented project to understand and shift narratives around Black business ownership, Durham’s historic Black Wall Street serves as a model. Fayetteville has been selected as one of five pilot communities for Forward Cities’ Black Wall Street initiative.
Fayetteville Ecosystem Builder in Residence
Lee Gray is a community-oriented leader and ecosystem builder. Her
career experiences have spanned across the retail and fashion industry. Since graduating from North Carolina A&T State University, Lee has led teams in retail management, apparel design, and visual merchandising for national clothing brands including Nordstrom, Belk, and bevello.
Lee’s interest in entrepreneurship and community development stems from her desire to transfer her wealth of skills in management and retail to entrepreneurs in real time. Lee currently serves as Associate Director of Outreach & Communications for Knox St. Studios, a studio serving entrepreneurs and change makers across North Carolina. Most recently, Lee is the Outreach coordinator for E3 Durham, an SBA backed initiative that connects small businesses in Durham to the tools and resources, to mentors, and to each other. Lee holds a Masters in Operations Management and a career certificate in Fashion Design and Merchandising.
The Fayetteville Pilots
Black Business Connect 2023
Black Business Connect is an innovative expo to bring the black business community together through informative workshops, panels, speakers, networking, food and music. Come out and help build on the legacy of the Black Wall Street ecosystem here in Fayetteville, as we celebrate our history, collaborate on how we can support our successes in the future and have a good time!
Black Artist Forum 2023
Come out to the Black Artist Forum where you can gain exclusive access to local art and business experts and collaborate with each other. This three hour panel and networking event will include an interactive discussion with experts, mentors, and organizations in a safe space for attendees to voice their needs during a Q+A session. Each attendee will also be provided curated resources specific to the tools needed to be successful in the arts.
Connect with us
For updates and information, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @BlackWallStFwd.
To stay updated on The Black Wall Street Forward initiative and the various opportunities to get involved with the initiative, subscribe to the newsletter!
Pillars & Council Members
In order to catalyze this narrative change in each community and honoring past and existing efforts of Black Wall Street legacy stewardship, we will pull forward the following pillars of success from Durham’s historical Black Wall Street.
Collaborative Black leadership and innovation
Realtor, EXIT Realty
Owner, Dark Red Photography
Culturally-rooted geographic business hub
Director, Hub at UNCFSU
Ally investment and partnership
Mayor, City of Spring Lake
Council Woman, City of Fayetteville
Talent pipeline seeded by education
Professor of Social Work, FSU
Creative Director, Arts Council
Engagement with the broader Black community
Owner, 1-800 Tees
Founder/Community Steward, Barber Kings
Self-perpetuating funding engine
Director of Lending, CEED
Robert Van Geons
Workforce and Economic Dir, City of Fayetteville
We're grateful for being able to partner with the following organizations to catalyze Black-centric Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: