HISTORY AND BACKGROUND OF DURHAM’S BLACK WALL STREET
“Black Wall Street” was the name given to a Parrish Street in Durham, comprising Bull City’s African-American businessmen. In times when race relations were all-time low, Durham’s black businessmen made strides with the help of their white counterparts. Black entrepreneurship which prospered during early twentieth century shown an unparalleled level compared to places like Atlanta. In the early twentieth century, Parrish Street in Durham constituted what today would be called an enterprise zone, propelled by the Bull City’s African-American businessmen. Nationally recognized, the business district acquired the nickname “Black Wall Street.” The four-block area complemented the Hayti community just to the south, the principal residential district for black Durham residents and center of the city’s educational, cultural, and religious life. In a period when race relations elsewhere in North Carolina were at an all-time low, Durham’s black businessmen made strides.
John Merrick, Dr. Aaron Moore, and C. C. Spaulding, the “Triumvirate” at the head of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, the nation’s largest black-owned insurance company, moved their headquarters in 1906 to Parrish, to be joined by Mechanics and Farmers Bank, founded by R. B. Fitzgerald and W. G. Pearson, in 1907. The Mutual leaders had other ventures, among them real estate and textiles. When W. E. B. Du Bois visited in 1912, he recorded an unparalleled level of black entrepreneurship.
FOUNDER AND CHIEF executive OFFicer
Mr. Shella has been a practicing lawyer for nearly twenty years. He has represented fortune 50 companies in litigation matters. His firm was once the largest owned black law firm in the state of North Carolina. In 2015, Mr. Shella saw that the African-American Community was losing the jewel of its economic past. This culminated when Capitol City Bank of Atlanta, a black owned bank failed and was taken over by First Citizens Bank of Raleigh, North Carolina. Seeing a bank with over 250 million in deposits taken over crystallized the issue and opportunities that exist in minority owned companies that have fallen on hard times. The preservation of these companies in all fields is the stated focus of Black Wall Street Investments, LLC.
Mr. Shella is a 1993 graduate of Morehouse College with a B.A. degree in International Studies/Economics. He also holds a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Certificate from the University College London Faculty of Laws. He is currently finishing his MBA at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business.
CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER
Sherrod McKenzie is a Director at BWSI,LLC. where he focuses on the quality of investments that our firm makes. Sherrod works with BWSI,LLC. on strategic decisions and leading fundraising. Sherrod joined the team in 2015 from Credit Suisse where he was an analyst in the derivatives sector. A North Carolina native, Mr. McKenzie holds a B.A. degree from Furman University. He can be reached at Sherrod@blackwallstreetinvestments.com.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Clarissa Goodlett is Chief Marketing Officer at BWSI,LLC. where she focuses on investor relations and communication with our clients and the general public. Clarissa has been active in state and federal political campaigns. An activist at heart, she is active in the Colorofchange.org-the nation's leading online racial justice organization. She has worked as an engineer in IT in Atlanta. She hols a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She is also finishing her MBA at UNC's Kenan Flagler School of Business. A Triangle native, she is proud to call Raleigh home.
DIRECTOR OF COMPLIANCE
Norman Smith is a Director Of BWSI,LLC. where he focuses on Corporate Security. He is in charge of monitoring and upgrading our cyber technology. Moreover he is in charge of investigating all those who seek to provide services to our clientele to verify the reliability of those companies. He is a former chief deputy and a licensed private investigator. He headed the OCDEFT task force in Eastern North Carolina while still in the Sheriff's office.