Sherry Gamble-Smith was named executive director of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce in November after previously serving as an intern while enrolled at Langston University. The Greenwood chamber’s mission is to create economic opportunities in north Tulsa. She also runs a mentoring program, WENet, for women and children.
1. You accepted this job back in November. What drew you to it?
Before I was appointed executive director, I was contracted with the chamber as an interim director. During that time, I was able to get involved in the community and assist in increasing membership. After a few months, I knew I needed more time to complete the chamber’s new vision and the availability of the executive director position provided me with this opportunity.
2. Many people know little of the history of Greenwood and Black Wall Street. How significant is the neighborhood’s history to Tulsa?
Black Wall Street was one of the most successful and independent African-American communities in our country’s history, making it significant not only to Tulsa but also the nation. Its recognition exceeds the knowledge of native Tulsans and African-Americans, and the stories of successful African-American businesses continue to inspire and motivate minorities and minorities businesses today.
3. This year marks 95 years since the Tulsa Race Riot. What activities did you plan in commemoration?
The Greenwood Chamber recognizes the Tulsa Race Riot every year. To continue to spread the knowledge of the success of Black Wall Street and the unlawful dissemination of this independent community, the chamber includes information of the events in our monthly newsletters on the anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot.
The Greenwood Chamber also encourages and supports our members’ activities as they mark the May 31-June 1, 1921, race riot.
4. Looking to the future, what are your hopes for the Greenwood chamber in the next five years?
Our vision for the Greenwood chamber and the historic Greenwood District is to bring more development, programming, and city and community involvement back into Greenwood.
As we move forward, the chamber plans to increase membership, promote more minority businesses and increase community involvement. We also plan to attract tourism to the historic Greenwood District through festivals and events.
5. You have also established WENet as a mentoring program. What are your goals and objectives for that?
Women Empowering and Networking Together is a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering women and children. For more than seven years, WENet’s mentoring program has been successful in Tulsa and Union public schools and has received state recognition for its assistance in building a positive self-image for participating children.
We plan to continue to positively impact children by implementing our self-esteem curriculum.