“Real estate is more than just a house,” Real Estate Ambassadors graduate Carlee told the crowd. “It’s about the land and everything in it.
Carlee and nearly a dozen other students filled the classroom at 36 degrees North on a sunny Friday afternoon. Joined by parents and members of the community, they celebrated their membership in the first class of real estate ambassadors.
The program, created by local real estate agent and business developer Aszurdee Sade, “introduces young people in urban communities to real estate as a means of commerce, empowerment, wealth creation and financial literacy, ”according to the organization’s website. It aims to position students to use real estate “as an alternative to the traditional path to success”.
“We are the only mobile real estate school in the world,” Sade said at the event. “There is no limit to what these students can learn in the real estate industry.”
Students tasked with re-imagining Greenwood without I-244
After learning the ins and outs of real estate throughout the course, students were instructed to use their newfound knowledge to imagine a redeveloped Greenwood without I-244.
The construction of the freeway in the 1960s demolished much of what the residents of Greenwood worked to rebuild after the massacre. The debate over the removal of the section of highway crossing the region has intensified across the city since the centenary. In a recent interview with The Black Wall Street TimesSenior Advisor to President Biden announced that funding would be available in the upcoming infrastructure bill for Tulsa to take action on the issue if the community chooses to do so.
Many students, including Kunta Nyameba II, said the highway “severed the connection points in the community”. “Black Wall Street has never regained its former glory,” Nyameba said.
Paxston, a student with The Black Official Queens of Real Estate, echoed Kunta’s sentiment. “[The highway] was supposed to separate downtown and northern Tulsa, ”she said.
The plans devised by the Paxston group called for the construction of “a water park, a hospital and a community center” in place of the freeway.
Another student, Alex of the “Young Black Wall Street” group, said removing the freeway “would create a more diverse community” across the Greenwood and downtown areas. “Young Black Wall Street” drew up plans for greenery, community gardens and more educational opportunities in place of the freeway.
The program aims to help communities create generational wealth
Many studies show that homeownership is one of the most proven and important ways to build generational wealth in America. According to the US Federal Reserve, Americans who own a home have more than forty times the equity of renters. Significant disparities in homeownership continue to exist between high and low income communities as well as between black and white communities.
In Tulsa, data shows white residents are almost twice as likely to own a home as black residents. This coincides with the country’s vast “racial wealth gap”, with white families holding seven times the wealth of black families.
Programs like Real Estate Ambassadors, however, are likely to help change this.
Throughout the presentations, student after student commented on how determined they are to own their own real estate.
“Real estate is not just a house,” said several students. “It is the earth that the house is on, the minerals below and the air above. You have it all.
After the presentations, Sade presented several older students with financial scholarships to help them pursue their real estate licenses. She and other community partners also donated cash prizes to each of the three teams.
“I’m so proud of all of you,” Sade told his students, fighting back tears as the program came to an end. “So proud.”
To learn more about the Real Estate Ambassadors program, click here.