#84 – Nehemiah Frank and the Square Pizza Podcast
Written by Kaosisochi Duruanyim, Strategic Implementation intern
The following is an abbreviated version of an interview between Greg Schermbeck, Founder & Principal of SchermCo & Nehemiah Frank, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Black Wall Street Times. You can listen to the full episode on the Square Pizza Pod ™.
- What did you have for breakfast, Mr. Frank?
- Today I had oatmeal, a boiled egg, and toast.
- Nehemiah, you’re coming from Atlanta, is that right?
- I live in the Atlanta metro area but am originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Can you tell the listening community who you are and what brought you to this work?
- I am Nehemiah Frank, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Black Wall Street Times and proud Greenwood descendant.
- What got you into education?
- I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and journalist, but I never pursued it because it wasn’t my major in college.
- Did you teach English?
- I taught English for a while and also taught 5th grade, where I had to teach every subject.
- For those who don’t know about the Tulsa massacre and what happened in 1921, could you share and bring the listening audience up to speed?
- On the eve of May 31st, a young black man was accused of assaulting a young white girl in an elevator. The white girl never pressed charges against Dick Rolland, the man accused of assaulting her. A mob of 10,000 white men descended into Greenwood across the Frisco Railroad tracks, which was the line of racial demarcation in Tulsa, and burned the entire community to the ground in 18 hours.
- Can you walk us through your progress from being a teacher and assistant principal to launching this successful publication?
- While teaching is already more than a full-time job, I noticed a disparity in the local reporting regarding African American stories. I learned during the Trump era that the media is a powerful tool, and by using the media, you can affect policy or even critical movements that need to happen in the community. Getting people to be more civically engaged through mobilizing them is what pretty much happened with The Black Wall Street Times. It is incredible to see what we’ve accomplished in 6 years.
- Can you explain to the viewers why you felt so strongly about the tagline of The Black Wall Street Times; “Access is the new civil rights”?
- Information is powerful, and those who don’t have access lose the opportunity to mobilize economically, participate in the local school board, or stay current on their health. We wanted to ensure The Black Wall Street Times was free and accessible to everyone.
- What changes have you seen resulting from the robust information you’re putting out on the platform?
- We were local then, but in 2021 a few Hollywood movies exposed the events that took place in Tulsa. This led to a surplus of attention, and we gained 25,000 subscribers in one week. This surplus of attention and subscribers led us to start reporting about things beyond Tulsa. Now The Black Wall Street Times has become a national news publication.
- Can you share more about your powerful article with the Kauffman Foundation?
- I learned a lot about the venture capital space and discovered that black founders aren’t invested in at the same rate as others.
- Could you talk about what you’ve seen in your experience regarding the connection between foundations and funders supporting nonprofits?
- Much wrong still occurs, but I feel like there’s been a change since the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. The philanthropic community got in the way in the past, thinking they knew best due to their elite education. In my community, the foundations are doing a better job of listening to the local leaders and investing in their mission. This made people realize that those closest to the issues need more autonomy or full autonomy when solving these issues.
- Can you offer 1 or 2 practices these foundations are doing or should be doing to better listen, engage, and fund community members closest to the problem?
- If I could speak directly to funders, I would tell them to do their research and look at the organization’s track record. Fund organizations that have already been doing the work without funding.
- What’s one thing our listening audience can do to support The Black Wall Street Times?
- Please subscribe, but if you have the financial resources, you can support us monetarily by donating $19.21 to The Black Wall Street Times. This can be done monthly, annually, or just once.
Listen to the full episode on the Square Pizza Pod™, #91 – Nehemiah Frank, Founder & Editor-In-Chief, The Black Wall Street Times