Upon arrival at Mays Business School and Texas A&M University, then-freshman Daniel Jefferson ’19, hailing from Houston, Texas where he attended Jersey Village High School, quickly noticed an opportunity for establishing community among African-American students. It was this opportunity that led to the vision of creating an organization that strived to establish a community amongst his fellow young black collegians at Mays. Bringing his vision into action this past September, Jefferson began the new student organization process to create Black Wall Street.
“During my time here, I’ve realized the importance of surrounding yourself with those who are both similar to you but also challenge your ideas,” Jefferson, a management major, described his motivation. “By creating Black Wall Street my hope is that I give a platform for those who may be new to the business school or those who feel as though they haven’t found their place to find those people.”
“Black Wall Street is a space to celebrate the contribution of black Americans to the broader business community,” said Mays recruiter Corey Stone, who also serves as the student organization advisor for Black Wall Street. “It is a place of fellowship and shared learning for students at Mays Business School who want to engage further with the black community at Mays.”
In its first year, Jefferson can already attest to how close-knit of an organization it is. “Not only is the organization one of a kind, but the idea is that even if you are not an executive board member you still have the ability to have just as much say in the direction that the organization goes,” said Jefferson. “As a new organization, the things that we do now will set the tone for the future so this is their chance to be a part of history.”
As the organization advisor, Stone has been impressed with the growth in Black Wall Street in its first year as well. “There has been a great turnout for Black Wall Street informationals, as many business majors and minors have interest in celebrating the spirit and future of businesses historically and presently tied to the black community,” Stone said.
Throughout February – Black History month – several activities and events were hosted by different organizations. Jefferson and Black Wall Street participated, in hopes of the “A&M student body understanding the essence of Black History month and to observe the culture that will be showcased without,” said Jefferson. “We are firm believers that it is important to try your best to understand other cultures, you never know what you may learn while doing so.”
Black Wall Street hosted a lecture on Feb. 20, “The Importance of Supporting Black Business,” in the Memorial Student Center featuring Shawn A. Taylor, president of Zaxby’s Houston and Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Houston Astros. The program showcased the importance of supporting African American business, which helps support families and communities that otherwise may not have much support.
Going forward, Jefferson hopes to see Black Wall Street thrive as an organization, and grow in the next few years to become one of the premiere organizations of Mays Business School, all while building representation on campus. Black Wall Street will continue to seek to provide tools of personal and professional development to its members, through professional development, academic achievement, and community involvement, and to promote a positive social environment amongst members to build a network they can thrive in.
Stone’s hopes for Black Wall Street is that the organization can continue to collaborate and create dialogue in ways that “promote cross-cultural conversations, shared learning, and ultimately lasting friendships between both people with shared experiences and those who may have little in common.”