February 23, 2024

Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Lynn Green

Can you share a bit about your personal background and heritage?

As an African American woman, Black History holds great significance both personally and professionally. I have always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur and getting a PhD as a 5-year-old black little girl. I was that child that thought having my library card at five years old was equivalent to meeting Santa. I was ecstatic! My mother sowed the seed of entrepreneurship within me as a child. She has been a primary motivation and continues to be the reason I am where I am on this journey of life.  Her mindset was that “it wasn’t a matter of if I went to college but a matter of where?” I come from a lineage of high achieving entrepreneurs and educators. My Aunt owned her own hair salon, my Uncle owned his own towing company, and my other Aunt was a School Principal. Growing up I looked up to my favorite Cousin, Co-founder of a neighborhood Pharmacy who was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where she received her master’s degree. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree while practicing as a Licensed School Psychologist. Her Daughter recently graduated with her Pharm. D. and is a current Pharmacy Manager.

The entrepreneurial bug officially bit when I owned and operated a lemonade stand as a child. Out of the gate, I made a net profit of $5.00 after all expenses of cups, lemonade packages, pitchers, straws and material to build the stand were paid. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay for human resources which was my mother that help me and purchased all of the items needed for this business endeavor. The lemonade stand I had as a child was the beginning of my passion for entrepreneurship and metaphor for life. As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your identity and experiences?

Only 3% of Black women-owned companies mature and survive longer than five years. My cultural heritage has greatly influenced my identity and both my personal and professional work experiences as a Black woman entrepreneur. While US businesses tend to consistently fail at a rate of 20% in their first year, this is disproportionately higher for Black owned businesses. A recent study suggested that 80% of Black owned businesses fail in their 12-18 months, and only 4% of Black-owned businesses make it past the start-up stage. To the contrary, there are approximately 3.12 million Black-owned businesses, generating $206 billion in annual revenues and employing 3.56 million workers.

Given these daunting statistics and in spite of adversity on this personal and business journey, I went on to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University’s PFP that has been ranked as the #1 financial planning program in the nation by Wealth Management magazine, received dual MBA’s and PhD at Kennesaw State University and Texas State University, respectfully. In entrepreneurship, I am the only Black woman owned change management consultancy with a testing assessment center delivering high demand industry certifications in IT, Business and Aviation. More specifically, the only Black woman owned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing partner in the U.S. My mother always believed I could do anything I set my mind to. She instilled in me the insatiable desire to succeed despite the obstacles. She audaciously and boldly declared that I could even become the President of the United States. She was partially right, today I am the President of my own award- winning company, TaylorMade Careers, LLC.

Can you recall a specific moment or event in Black history that has had a profound impact on you?

The 1921 Attack on Greenwood was one of the most notable events in Tulsa’s history. This specific event in Black history has had a profound impact on me. Upon watching the docuseries, “Rebuilding Black Wall Street | OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network” I wanted to see the historical landmark with my own eyes. On my recent visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma last November 2023, on a birthday road trip with my husband, I experienced up close and walked on the very street of the Greenwood District where Black Wall Street existed. Additionally, I visited the Greenwood Cultural Center, where I was able to touch the 1921 Black Wall Street Memorial. This historic landmark stood so valiantly erected from the ground with the names of the 190 businesses that were destroyed. As a result of this attack, there were an estimated 1,256 homes that were demolished which left 10,000 people homeless.

Tulsa was recognized nationally for its affluent African American community known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding community was referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In June 1921, a series of events nearly demolished the entire Greenwood thirty-five blocks including churches, schools, businesses, even a hospital and library. The destruction of property is only one piece of the financial devastation that this historical event bought on. More sobering is the incalculable and enduring loss of what could have been? What if these Black entrepreneurs were able to secure generational wealth for their children and grandchildren?

How do you think that moment has shaped the course of history?

When it comes to pioneers in African American history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, are often mentioned—and rightfully so. However, I would mention Dr. Lael Alexander, the year of 1921, and Black Wall Street to name a few. Dr. Lael Alexander, a Louisiana native and the innovator behind the groundbreaking technology of Miracast, which allows screen sharing from mobile devices to televisions between Wi-fi devices, even if a Wi-Fi network is not available, has emerged as a key figure in the revival of the historic Black Wall Street.

Alexander’s pioneering work in computer design has shaped the course of history. One pivotal invention was the creation of the first smart computing device and ILT device. This invention enabled utility companies to monitor the condition of the top of transformers.   His innovation directly addressed the issue of blackouts during storms, a common problem in Louisiana and other areas. Alexander’s technology facilitated electricity companies to proactively identify transformer’s fatigue and therefore reducing reliance on third party stakeholders.

Throughout his journey, Dr. Lael Alexander has invested nearly $8 million in the redevelopment of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, with plans for further investment totaling $86 million.   Alexander’s story and unwavering commitment to rekindling the spirit of the Black community is awe-inspiring. Documenting this rebirth of the ongoing reconstruction of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, while celebrating the personal and professional journeys of Black Wall Street descendants, Greenwood Avenue is the pulse of Black entrepreneurship.

It is crucial for Black entrepreneurs to be visible and actively share their stories and experiences. By doing so, they can help break down barriers and inspire the next generation of Black entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and overcome the cultural obstacles they may face and make lemonade out of these lemons.

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