20 Posts: Doubling Down on Blue Blood Hustle | Knox St. Studios

“Be The Change You Wish to See in The World” — Mahatma Ghandi

I was 2 years old when the Ghandi film was released, and was 7 years old when I sat down with my parents to watch the film. I remember vividly the compassion and sense of urgency that Ghandi harnessed to change the lives of his fellow country men and women against the factors that were restricting their ability to live their best life. Let me be the first to say, I’m not a Ghandi — however I do embrace the sense of urgency that he did to organize change and drive resources to the issues of the day. The issue of our day is the lack of support to create and sustain thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine there are between 25 million and 27 million small businesses in the U.S. that account for 60 to 80 percent of all U.S. jobs. And, a recent study by Paychex, says that small businesses produce 13 times more patents that larger firms {Fortune Magazine}. It is up to us to reinvest in ourselves and our business community to create generational wealth and a fertile ground for years to come.

Over the next 20 posts I will be adding a story per day that demonstrate the need for us to reinvest in us. Please tune in and support our project.

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Please Visit Campaign Page And Donate!

Your contribution will help us create our state of the art learning + innovation studio in the heart of Durham’s Walltown Community! Through your contribution, we will offer programs that focus on Small Business & Economic Development & (building business, sustainability, funding) Home Ownership and Retention, Technical Education (e.g., Coding, Blockchain), Artrepreneurship, and many others. This will be a place to think, learn, and grow!

Post 2 | Defiance Pays Off — When we first came up with the concept for Blzck Wall Street Homecoming, we were told by a few that it was “too black”, and that we would “marginalize ourselves”. I wrestled with that for about….say 24 hours….eh. I feel that those folks misunderstood the power of cooperative economics as well as the prevailing energy within the black community to organize, pool resources, and to ultimately build organizations/events/businesses that are counter to the narrative being portrayed within the media. We created Black Wall Street Homecoming in 2015, at a time when then President Barack Hussein Obama was entering his last term as POTUS. His administration ushered in groups of people to the White House that would have otherwise not had access. At this same time one the brightest entrepreneurial personalities on TV, Daymond John, the creator of For Us By Us/F.U.B.U was demonstrating the power of entrepreneurship and venture capital, this was all happening at the height of the Blacks in Technology & Entrepreneurship movement with teams of folks hacking on new businesses from coast to coast. It was time build something new.

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BWS Team (l-to-r). Dee, Talib, Tobias, Jesica

Black Wall Street Homecoming is designed to provide value to an entrepreneurial community that is often overlooked and underserved, our goal has always been to pass it forward and hack the system. When HBO decided that our mission was aligned with that of the film The Defiant Ones, the story of Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine’s founding of Beats by Dre and ultimate sale to Apple Music for $3Billion, they asked us to host a private screening in Durham. We were honored and also encouraged to double down on our work. We all need validation that our work is impacting the people it was designed for. Thanks to: HBO, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Chaucer Barnes, Allen Hughes, and Steve Stoute for Pushing the Culture Forward. I encourage each one of us to push forward with a tenacity and urgency to build entities that drive change and create value!

Creds: BWSHOMECOMING, Talib Graves-Manns, Chaucer Barnes, Dee McDougal, Jesica Averhart, @hughes2society, @thesharkdaymond, Tobias Rose

Post 3 | Legacy, Legacy, Legacy | The First Black ($) Contribution to Duke University— When I first heard rumors throughout my family that my Great Uncle Frank Wall had made arrangements with Duke University (his employer) for all of the Wall descendants to be able to attend for the university for free, I said “show me the receipt”. I spend some time digging and was able to find a receipt (spoiler alert — it doesn’t spell out that we can go for free (yet)).

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The First African-American Contribution to Duke University | His will.

This receipt signifies something very important — it was the first scholarship gift from an African-American to the university. My Great Uncle (1871–1953) & Great Great Grandfather (1856–1930) both served as a custodians and janitors at Duke University with a collective 75 years of service up until the death of my uncle. His last will and testament bequeathed a scholarship of $100 ($1,200 today) to the University, his rationale was as follows; “The reason that I am giving Duke University the One Hundred Dollars,” the will states, “is that I have been employed by said School all my life, from Old Trinity in Randolph County, to Trinity College in Durham, thence Duke University where I am now employed. I want to impress on other colored men, the fine and good relations between Christian White People and Christian Negroes. For seventy-five years, I have been employed by said institution and never a cross word but Christian Harmony.” It would not be until 10 years later that blacks would be admitted to Duke University.

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Frank Wall (Duke University) — My Great Grand Uncle | Durham N.C.

Not too bad for a second generation custodian & janitor from Durham! Since his passing my Walltown family has remained rooted in the community, and host the annual Walltown Reunion and in 2009 advocated for the creation of the Walltown Neighborhood Clinic. Our community has stayed strong through the demographic shifts (gentrification alert), and in order for us to strive for another 150 years we have to Double Down and reinvest in ourselves. Please contribute and read more about our legacy (Article I & Article II)

Post 4 | Study / Impact / Reinvest | Albert Einstein went to an HBCU. They say a picture is worth a thousand words — this is that picture . In the 20 years before Einstein died, he almost never accepted invitations to speak at universities. In 1946 he broke his self-imposed rule to give an address in Philadelphia [Lincoln University] and also collected an honorary degree- this is an excerpt of what he had to say: “There is … a somber point in the social outlook of Americans … Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am dearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. … The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”

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Albert Einstein at Lincoln University

Einstein’s speech shortly thereafter at Lincoln University was not a coincidence. At Lincoln University he declared: “The separation of the races is not a disease of colored people, but a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.” But according to Fred Jerome, who has written extensively on Einstein’s collaboration with the organization “The American Crusade to End Lynching,” the press largely ignored this speech, letting it sink into “a historical black hole.” Einstein showed great courage in saying and doing what others would not. Excerpts taken from Rhapsody in Books & Blavity [Read More] — LET’S CONTINUE TO BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD!

Post 5 | USA Today |How a start-up hub made good on diversity goals — From 2015–2016 I served as an Entrepreneur In Residence with Google for Entrepreneurs & Code2040 in Durham. As an EIR I had two assignments 1) work hard on my startup 2) be a change agent to get more access to black and latino’s in tech, entrepreneurship, and access to capital. In 2015 USA Today wrote a piece about our work at American Underground in Durham. The Fact is Simple — Diversity is good for business — Here are 5 Reasons Why: Increased Creativity, Foster Innovation, Better Consumer Understanding, Richer Brainstorming, Better Decision Making (Read More @ Inc Mag Article). The team at American Underground embraces that, and that is its Unfair Advantage!

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Talib & Adam (2015)

Take a few mins and read the original USA Today article — “While we’re far from finished, our success so far suggests four important pathways to developing a more diverse startup community: prioritization, leadership, partnerships and exposure”. Shouts to @AdamMKlein @Jesaverhart @mollydemarest and the entire AU Team on their commitment to D/I.

Post 6| BWS Homecoming, Whoa — This marks year 4 of BWS Homecoming, an organization that I created with my 3 co-founder; Jesica, Dee, and Tobias. For the past year we have been planning our breakout year for BWS. This means late nights, countless introductions, fund raising, and all the falls in between. Please excuse me if I am a little slow on the daily post! Wish us luck!

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www.bwshomecoming.com

Post 7|BWS Homecoming|Day I — Reading is fundamental for business. When I was a teenager my father purchased the Reginald F. Lewis book “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun” for me. When I read the book as a teen I was encouraged by learning about the many successes of Mr.Lewis, however I didn’t pick up on the nature and significance of his business dealings as a young man. With a slight nudge from one of my mentors I picked up a copy again this summer — this time I knew exactly what Mr. Lewis had accomplished and what fueld his hustle. While rereading the book I could now understand the language and complexity of the businesses he created from Startups to M&A. Throughout the chapters, the name Rene “Butch” Meily (V.P. Public Relations for TLC Beatrice) came up so I decided to see if I could find Mr. Meily on the internet. After a few mins I found Mr. Meily on linkedin and sent him a message! Fast forward 2 months, Mr. Meily presented the Reginald F. Lewis story at BWS 2019. Stay tuned for more on this incredible connection and story.

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Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun presented by Rene “Butch” Meily

Post 8|BWS Homecoming|Day II — The surge of Blue Blood Hustle during BWS is real! Special thank you to our keynotes, Jim Casselberry and Arlan Hamilton Fred Whitfield, Rene Meily as well as the hundreds of special guest and speakers who made BWS 2018 (Sept 26–28th). BWS feels like a gift, over the past four years our team has been able to pull off a homecoming baked in a culture of giving, camaraderie, and excellence. Consider joining us in 2019, and lending your support throughout the year — its our duty to Pay it Forward. Check out the video with Arlan Hamilton (below).

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Watch Video Here
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BWS 2018, A Success!

Post 9 | We Made The Paper! — With your help we made the paper! As many of you know I am building an Innovation & Entrepreneurship Studio in Durham. Please take a few minutes out to read the article and please contribute where you can. This will be a place for all of us!! Read Full Article Here.

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Post 10 | On the way to our goal — $10,000+ Raised! — With your support we have eclipsed the $10,000 fundraising mark and received contributions from over 40 people. This means a lot, thank you. As we enter the remaining 10 post of our campaign I am asking you to please continue pushing out the word and contributing where you can. Lets make this a success! Click Here To Contribute.

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Click Here To Contribute.

Post 11 | We Closed, It’s Ours! — We closed! Today marks a big day for me. This is my first piece of commercial property within the heart and soul of Durham, its located in a community named after my Great-Great Grandfather. We are still ideating on the precise details of opening — but just know this will drive Design + Impact in a new way. Special Thanks to Mechanics & Farmers Bank!

Many of your generous contributions made this happen, Thank you! If you haven’t yet contribute please read more and donate here — it’s tax deductible.

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Day 1 After Signing on the dotted line!

Post 12 | Get Your Knuckles Dirty

If it was easy, everyone would do it! Please contribute here.

Completing demolition works looks like fun — we get to get a little aggression out while hacking closer to the vision — but they don’t tell you that it can be a pain in the a**! The pain is well worth it when you get to finally see what’s behind the walls and carpet!

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My brother Sheldon stepping in to assist!

To Date:

-We have brought in six small business owners (sub-contracting), it feels good to put money in the local economy!

-Demo’d a drop ceiling, 38 feet of drywall (twice!), and removed 15 year old carpet!

-Hauled away over 1,200 lbs of debris!

…and created a shell ripe for renovation!

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Breath easy…

We still need your help — now that the Holiday’s are over and the gifts have been given — please consider us, we will put all contributions to use completing our build-out and releasing our first schedule of programming (read more below). If you are just tuning into our campaign — read more here (via Medium).

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Thanks Trine for the design points!

Post 13 | Paying It Forward — Your Contributions at Work

Before we can get to the bulk of our work (entrepreneurship/learning/innovation/community) at Knox St Studios we have had to deconstruct and rebuild. We are almost complete — floors have been grinded and sealed, walls removed, leaks repaired, HVAC serviced, permits obtained, plumbing repair, painting, insulation upgraded, and business partnerships formed (the list goes on…). Special Thank You to the many of you who have already contributed.

The excitement and satisfaction of watching Knox Street come to fruition is equally matched by the impact we are having on our local community. Two weeks ago, I reached out to my friends at the Urban Ministries of Durham (our local homeless shelter) to see if they had people who needed work — the answer was yes. This is when I met Jeanna, she is classified as chronically homeless and recently picked up the trade of painting (she is enrolled in the trades education program at the shelter) and she was eager to do her first external project

Talib & Jeanna

Jeanna showed up ready to paint, and within a few minutes she was applying the first coat. Over the course of the next two days she shared with me a bit of her story; growing up in rural Tennessee, graduating with her bachelors, the career she once held as well as the conditions that lead many people to homelessness. Through our conversations, I discovered that Jeanna had been detached from the world over a bit of money that many of us may consider trivial. Jeanna was painting her way to get a phone — she hadn’t had one in three months. Because of not having a phone, she was severely handicapped in communicating with the world around her — to be clear this includes: family, friends, applying for jobs, reading & watching the news, etc.

I am proud to say that she painted her way into enough money to purchase a new phone and put some money in her pocket. As I compare Jeanna’s need and wants with that of the community we serve it is a reminder that we all need opportunity in the form of people who believe in us, direction/instruction and a marketplace that will compensate us for our talents. Knox St Studios will deliver this to our community and empower others to rise up!

We encourage your contribution. Please contribute here. — Talib

Post 14 | Black History in The Making — Thanks Harold

Special Edition “Post” — Thank you Harold Hughes for including me in “Black History in the Making — 2019”. I am honored to be listed with fellow entrepreneurs Dawn Dickson Jewel Burks Kwame Anku, Sterling Smith @aArlan Hamilton Riana Lynn Kelvin Beachum Jr. amongst others. Looking back across this list of exceptional people I see a commonality of mission oriented people who believe in building value for their businesses while also driving community impact.

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Big thank you to the organizations, powered by philanthropic dollars, which have been instrumental in making these connections for me — Code2040 + Black Wall Street — Read Full Article Here — https://medium.com/…/black-history-in-the-making-2019-aeae1…

Post 15 | Impact Report | Knox St. Studios | April 2019

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Post 16 | The Benefits of Stillness |Update 5.26.2019

If you know me, then you know that I thrive off kinetic energy. Whether it’s taking back to back flights, navigating a room, or hosting entrepreneurs, I get a full sense of satisfaction from actively engaging with others. The day to day construction of Knox St. Studios has taken me far and away from the human interactions I crave. In fact, it has compelled me to endure the opposite — slow-moving solitude. Renovating the space has required me to work alone (and ultimately ask for help!) at my desktop a lot of time or with only a couple of people (including Anthony, my right-hand- man carpenter and my brother Sheldon) or, when I’m lucky, with the good people at my local Home Depot. After five months of renovations one thing is clear — I was able to accomplish a lot because I was able to sustain a linear focus with support from others. And I learned to be patient.

As I reflect on this experience, it occurs to me to share three important things I learned about project management with you, my ardent supporters.

1. Welcome help, and ask for it — As a serial entrepreneur I have found one strategic piece of advice rings true no matter what I am trying to accomplish: get over yourself, and ask for help! Following this advice usually requires an ego-check. When I allow others to join me in the struggle, it often leads to business concept breakthroughs, revenue, and net-new relationships that help me reach my goals. Knox St. Studios has been the most rewarding project to date, because I finally got over myself, and yelled for help! And got it. I thank you all.

2. Surrender to time– Waking up day after day to sameness as if I was an extra in the Groundhog Day Movie has been my reality! I lived in that reality for the first couple months, becoming frustrated at the amount of “time” that I thought was being wasted during the renovation process. If you know like I know, then you know that frustration will lead to stress and eventually illness — and since I don’t want to become physically ill from stress, I decided to surrender to time instead. Once I stopped watching the clock and the calendar, I was able to appreciate the small, incremental improvements that occurred day over day. I began to smile at the smallest changes that we were able to make.

3. Accepting imperfections– For those of you who have ever crafted something yourself, whether it’s a powerpoint presentation or simply mowing your yard, you know the frustrations I am talking about. It’s the feeling you get when you realize your hard and many times tedious work is less than perfect. More often than not, after having that feeling, I worked double-time to try to make whatever I was working on exemplary (examples: SmartArt in PowerPoint or perfectly edging the driveway). In the long run, however, that is not sustainable behavior. I have come to realize that with many creative projects you simply have to let the small stuff go! No nit-picking.

Post 17 | Knox St. Studios | Techstars Affiliate

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Yeah Buddy!

This means that Knox St. Studios can now refer strong entrepreneurial candidates to the Techstars platform. It’s simple — come to Knox St. Studios, build the relationship and we will go from there!

More on Techstars: Each year, we choose over 300 companies to join our three month mentorship-driven accelerator, investing $120K and providing hands-on mentorship and access to the Techstars Network for life.

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Check the boxes!

Post 18 | We Are Almost There | Soft Opening This Week

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Only $4k Away! Contribute Here
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It’s That Time! May 2019!

Post 19 | Community Coding Program & Juneteenth | Only One Post Left

We are up and running, thanks to you and the hardworking volunteers throughout the community. Here are a couple updates:

Community Code — Summer Sessions. We bring the resources to the community, where the community is! Reach out (info@knoxststudios.org) to lean more.

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Community Code Launch, Approaching week 5!
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Knox Street Video Tour | Juneteenth KeyNote

Click this link to watch the full video!

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Post 20| WE DID IT! | JULY 2019

Many thanks to our supporters! The journey from concept to completion has been an eventful journey to say the least. After completing this journey I can honestly say that I understand now what it means to “enjoy the process when you are going through it”.

Over the past 8-months I have experienced jubilant highs, unsettling lows, and plenty of middle ground minutiae, and now that we have accomplished our goal of opening the doors, we must celebrate. Cheers to the many of you who have contributed your own money, included us in your corporate philanthropy, lent us your own labor, and just called/text/dm’d/stopped by just say hi. It has all meant the world to me personally, thank you.

In addition to the outpouring of support from the community I want to say thank you to Mechanics & Farmers Bank for providing the financing, and to DirectlyTo for managing our crowd funding campaign. It feels good to utilize black-owned “financing” businesses that believe in our mission. We know that they will be good stewards by reinvesting in communities that look like us. Salut!

Thank so much,

-Talib Graves-Manns (Please note that we will continue to take contributions, and we need them, please reach out directly)

- STAY TUNED FOR GRAND OPENING AUG 2019-

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Photos from our first talk — “Designing The Food System w/Dr. Deborah Barnes”. Shouts to Ms. Sherrell Dorsey who always manages to be there at the beginning!

Written by

I Build Things - Products + Communities. Knox Street / Black Wall Street / Co-Founder of Point AB / Co-Founder Life on Autopilot 2015–2016 EIR Code2040/Google.

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