BWSF Fayetteville

"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


Map of North Carolina with location pins on Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and FayettevilleAs 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 was selected as one of five pilot communities for Forward Cities’ Black Wall Street initiative.


Lee Gray headshot

Lee Gray

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 was an innovative expo to bring the black business community together through informative workshops, panels, speakers, networking, food and music. Attendees joined us to help build on the legacy of the Black Wall Street ecosystem in Fayetteville, as we celebrated our history and collaborated on how we can support our successes in the future.


Black Artist Forum 2023

The Black Artist Forum provided exclusive access to local art and business experts. The three hour panel and networking event included 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 was also provided curated resources specific to the tools needed to be successful in the arts.

Discover BWSF-Fayetteville

The Strategic Vision

The Black Wall Street Forward Council was asked to project forward and imagine what that community would look like in the year 2050, with each pillar activated to its fullest potential. The following is the strategic vision emerged by the council along with historical context, aligned assets, and council-identified collaborative opportunities that can be leveraged as part of a larger effort to bring that vision to fruition.

Explore the Interactive Presentation

Explore the journey of the Black Wall Street Forward Council using our interactive Prezi.

Connect with us


For updates and information, connect with us on LinkedIn and Instagram at @BlackWallStFwd.

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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


Kirk Bell

Realtor, EXIT Realty

Allonease Readdy

Owner, Dark Red Photography

Culturally-rooted geographic business hub


Tamara Bryant

Director, Hub at UNCFSU

Ally investment and partnership


Kia Anthony

Mayor, City of Spring Lake

Shakeyla Ingram

Council Woman, City of Fayetteville

Talent pipeline seeded by education


Dorrance Kennedy

Professor of Social Work, FSU

April Mata

Creative Director, Arts Council

Engagement with the broader Black community


Kurin Keys

Owner, 1-800 Tees

Quow Lumumba

Founder/Community Steward, Barber Kings

Self-perpetuating funding engine


Crystal McLean

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:

Truist Foundation logo
MetLife Foundation Logo
Target Foundation logo