Owners, entrepreneurs recognized for making Tulsa awesome.
By Gary Lee, The Oklahoma Eagle
Photography by Basil Childers
An all-star list of Black Wall Street businesses and entrepreneurs took top honors in the Tulsa Young Professionals (TYPROS) Boomtown awards last weekend.
The coveted annual citations are open to hundreds of companies and young entrepreneurs across Tulsa. But this year, TYPROS intentionally bestowed the prizes on Black Wall Street enterprises and personalities. The organization presented the awards at a gala ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Nov. 5. The event, a TYPROS official said, “is the organization’s premier celebration to recognize and honor those in the city, which furthers our mission of making Tulsa awesome.”
Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge won the top prize in the Boomtown Business Award category. Graphic designer and clothing brand owner Tony Williams took home the Boomtown Individual Award. The Boomtown Organization Award went to Urban Coders Guild, which provides computer science education access and opportunities to youth from historically underserved, underrepresented, and otherwise under-resourced communities. And Tyrance Billingsly won TYPROS’ Legacy Award. Billingsley is the founder and Executive Director of Black Tech Street, an initiative to rebirth Black Wall Street.
“We wanted this year to be a springboard that launches continued focus and growth on Historic Greenwood and Black Wall Street,” said Andrea Pemberton, executive director of TYPROS. “With these awards TYPROS is commemorating the 100th anniversary of Tulsa’s darkest hour. We didn’t want this year to be a moment that was acknowledged and then moved on from without further thought.”
Grants to Black Wall Street start-ups
Besides the top trophies, TYPROS also gave $50,000 in grants to five new Black Wall Street businesses.
“We hope these projects being completed in 2022 will keep that spotlight on Greenwood and North Tulsa,” Pemberton said. “We wanted to challenge ourselves to put our money where our mouths were and give away the most we have ever given.
“The TYPROS Foundation wants to show our commitment to addressing systemic racism and promoting equity and visibility to underserved members of our community.”
In honoring Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge, TYPROS highlighted that the popular hangout “is a coffee shop that pays homage to the spirit and resilience of historic Black Wall Street in Tulsa’s Greenwood District. It’s a lounge that serves all of the coffee shop standards while serving as a co-working and meeting space for small business owners and local patrons.”
Co-owner Yvette Troupe was on hand at last Saturday’s gala event to receive the award.
In their selection of Williams, TYPROS noted that he is known as “Mr. Black Wall Street.”
“Tony spends most of his time volunteering with the community, working on his business and keeping the Greenwood spirit alive,” his citation said.
In raising up Urban Coders Guild, TYPROS noted that “all its students are exposed to coding technologies, as well as other roles within the tech sphere: IT project managers, business analysts, product designers, product developers, tech salespeople, and future tech entrepreneurs.”
The grants went to the following recipients:
Tracy Gibbs received $20,000 for the “Greenwood Reflection Garden.” This garden will be created at the Gibbs Shopping Center on the east side of the building. This garden will remember and honor the survivors who triumphantly paved the way for awareness, education, hope, and peace through sharing their personal stories of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. There will be a mural with faces of some of those survivors, with QR codes that can be scanned to hear the interviews of survivors. The garden will be a quiet space to unwind, reflect and spark intellectual dialogue. Tracy Gibbs is a descendant of a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor and a respected business owner in North Tulsa. To honor her family and those lost in Tulsa’s darkest hour, the TYPROS Foundation granted this project $20,000 – the largest single amount in TYPROS Foundation history.
Victor Lawrence Collins received $10,000 to for “Trash Talk.” This project will make Tulsa awesome by helping clean up underserved communities and engaging neighbors to grow our sense of community. After each cleaning, a space will be provided for local artists to perform and share their talents with those who come clean. The goal is to form a deeper connection between the artists in Tulsa and the communities they represent.
Cooperation Tulsa received $5,000 for Church of the Restoration Community Garden. The community garden will make Tulsa awesome by bringing Tulsans together to grow and cultivate food. Tulsa’s community will manage the gardens, and decisions will be made democratically and intergenerationally. The CRCG will be an interactive means of learning food sovereignty, restorative land practices, and community building. Congratulations to the Church of the Restoration Community Garden.
Crystal Shaver with “Mindful Resilience Courses” received $5,000. This course will focus on helping heal the trauma in the Black community. The idea is to give opportunities and safe spaces for Black people to explore, connect with and heal their traumas. The four-week course will examine how trauma impacts the body. The courses will be offered for free.
Black Queer Tulsa for Black Pride Week received $10,000. This weekend of fun will be hosted by Black Queer Tulsa and will celebrate all the queer members of our community. They aim to bring the Black Queer community together with other races of the Queer community to form a bond and trust. They hope anyone from around the world who wants to participate can do that.