Photo by Nigel Poor

Photo by Nigel Poor


Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll overcame poverty, illiteracy, incarceration and a lack of outside support to become a stock investor, creator and teacher of his own financial literacy philosophy. The media calls Wall Street (Carroll) the “Oracle of San Quentin” for his stock picking prowess and ability to translate financial information into simple language for his students.

Wall Street grew up in Oakland, California surrounded by poverty. There was no yellow brick road to Wall Street. Drug addicts, drug dealers, criminals and hopelessness saturated his community. Members of his close family were addicted to crack cocaine which led to him and his family being homeless off and on. He recalls standing in a blood bank line, where his mother sold her blood so she could buy food. Instead of taking the education route to over come poverty, Wall Street ran the streets looking for ways to “get paid.” He sold drugs, stole cars, burglarized homes, stole welfare checks and committed robberies. In 1996, at 17 years old, he committed a robbery where a man was killed. He turned himself in and ended up an illiterate
teenager in prison with a 54-to-life sentence. A love of sports worked like a mind-numbing narcotic, distracting him from the miserable circumstances. Wall Street followed basketball and football, using his cellmate to read the sports section to him. However, his criminal activity continued while in the Santa Rita County Jail, as he learned to make money in different illegal ways. For the first time, Wall Street discovered a legal way to make money by accident. He came out his cell to get the sports section of the newspaper. Instead he grabbed the business section and an older man asked, “Do you play the stock market?” Wall Street responded, “Stocks? What’s that?” “That where the White People keep all their money.” From that day on, the stock market captured his attention unlike anything before.

Wall Street decided he wanted to learn more about it, but due to his illiteracy he couldn't. Motivating by the lure of financial gaining from the stock market, he taught himself how to read at 20-21 years old. Once able to read, he started studying the stock market. Wall Street role models changed from drug dealers and sports figures to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Wall Street was shocked that it worked better than any crime he ever committed. He wanted others to learn this new way of making money because he felt if they knew better they would do better.

When Wall Street arrived at San Quentin in 2012, he met fellow man in blue Troy Williams, (released in Nov. 2014) who helped him start the Financial Literacy Program. Together they created the philosophy F.E.E.L (Financial Empowerment Emotional Literacy) that teaches men to recognize how their emotions affect their financial decision and how to separate the two.