Tulsa Conference Aimed At Helping Black-Owned Businesses To Close Racial Wealth Gap

Jun 1, 2021

COMSTAR Advisors CEO Sam Combs (left), Black Enterprise CEO Earl "Butch" Graves Jr., Collab Capital Managing Partner Jewel Burks Solomon, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission Project Director Phil Armstrong, National Association of Securities Professionals CEO Ron Parker and Nationwide Retirement Plans President Eric Stevenson participate in a kickoff news conference for Economic Empowerment Day.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

A conference in Tulsa on Tuesday sought to bring attention to the racial wealth gap.

Economic Empowerment Day is part of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission’s slate of events. Project Director Phil Armstrong said the conference brought together Black executives and business leaders from around the country.

"It would be great for African Americans to see that Black excellence was not just in Greenwood in 1921, but that people today can see that Black excellence has always been here," Armstrong said.

Earl "Butch" Graves, CEO of media company Black Enterprise, said the wealth gap is huge. On average, white families hold 10 times the wealth of Black families.

"All of the divides you hear in this country — the digital divide, health care divide, education divide — all of those are derivatives of the wealth divide," Graves said.

Collab Capital Managing Partner Jewel Burks Solomon said a lack of diversity among who controls financial assets is a big issue to address.

"Pattern-matching is a very real phenomenon. So, white males invest in other white males. So, until there is a major shift — which we do see happening — with the money managers being non-white males, that’s when we really will see that more capital is moving to Black-led companies," Solomon said.

There were three learning tracks for Black entrepreneurs and those who support them to choose from at the conference: learning more about financial literacy, connecting with capital and investing in Black-owned companies.