How Trayvon Martin’s death inspired this founder to create a space for Black professionals and creatives

How Trayvon Martin’s death inspired this founder to create a space for Black professionals and creatives

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When you hear the terms social club or private club, what comes to mind? Cigars, fireplaces, white linen on the table? Does the term “old boys club” come to mind? It does for me. So do exclusion, privilege, and retaining power. 

There are “old boys clubs” in all aspects of our society from informal locker rooms of college campuses to the halls of power in our nation’s capital. But our guest Ryan Wilson, founder of The Gathering Spot is flipping the script on what a social club can be.  

From 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, this is Diverse Disruptors, a podcast about leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers who found their own way to innovate and did so with inclusion and accessibility at the forefront. 

Inspired by the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer George Zimmerman, Wilson and his friend TK Peterson were motivated to create a space for Black professionals to not only network and socialize, but to hold conversations about issues that matter to them. The idea was born while Wilson was attending Georgetown University Law Center. 

After a few years of working on the idea, Wilson and Peterson finally created what would become The Gathering Spot with its first location in my hometown of Atlanta. I actually visited the club a couple of years ago and it was not only a lovely space, but I felt like I belonged.  

Now, The Gathering Spot has expanded to D.C. with over 2000 members and is currently building out the Los Angeles location. Wilson’s goal is to create a connected community to empower Black professionals and creatives. During the pandemic, The Gathering Spot engaged its community with a variety of virtual events including hosting presidential candidates during the 2020 election. Even Little Nas X hosted a homecoming party at the Atlanta location.  

Wilson is building something that I have never seen before, and I wanted to learn more about the community, he is building, his thoughts about the racial reckoning that has occurred after the murder of George Floyd and what responsibility does government and corporations have regarding racial justice and equity. But I wanted to start with Wilson’s childhood.

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