Wakanda in Real Time: Black Tech Saturdays Empowers Communities Through Innovation

“We Black people are geniuses, we are so creative, we have so many different skills but when you talk about unlocking your genius and in the way we light up, we have to let AI and other technology tools help us with the rest,” said Alexa Turnage. 

A futurist technology movement is gaining momentum, one Saturday at a time in Detroit’s start-up community. Alexa and Johnnie Turnage, co-founders of Black Tech Saturdays, have made it their mission to bridge the gap in tech education and access. The innovative husband-and-wife duo is helping redefine how technology intersects with community empowerment for Black and Brown users.    

The couple envisioned Black Tech Saturdays becoming a national model for inclusive tech innovation after realizing the sparse representation of Black founders in tech spaces.

“At the beginning, it was just me and another founder hanging out on Saturdays, helping each other,” Johnnie recalls. “We were just two people leaning in, sharing knowledge and resources but we quickly saw the need to expand this community.”

Black Tech Saturdays Gathering. Image: courtesy Black Tech Saturdays.
Black Tech Saturdays Gathering. Image: courtesy Black Tech Saturdays.

The first official Black Tech Saturday in April 2023 drew over 250 attendees, marking a pivotal moment. “That was the genesis of how we can help each other get further faster,” Johnnie explained. The event provided a safe space for Black innovators to collaborate and celebrate their culture as they uplifted one another’s ideas.

The organization’s impact extends beyond networking. It has facilitated partnerships with business leaders and secured funding for startups tackling quality-of-life issues in underserved communities. “We aim to empower founders to work on solutions that matter,” Alexa emphasized. “It’s about leveraging technology to solve real-world problems.”

One of the initial supporters of Black Tech Saturdays was Dug Song, the billionaire known as a champion for diversity in tech. “Tech is Black. It always will be,” Song declared during a keynote speech at the beginning of Black Tech Saturdays. His advocacy has helped propel the couple’s initiative forward, inspiring more participation and innovation from business leaders.

The development of a tech-focused meeting space addresses the digital divide across underserved communities, where access to high-speed internet and STEM education remains a challenge. “Technology is crucial to closing these gaps,” Johnnie Turnage noted. “It’s not just about catching up, it’s about leading and innovating.”

Beyond bridging gaps, Black Tech Saturdays fosters a culture of collaboration and ethical development in tech. “We celebrate our culture and ensure our innovations benefit everyone,” Alexa affirmed. The organization showcases the brilliance and creativity of Black and Brown tech entrepreneurs developing a Wakanda-like Utopia.

As the movement grows, so does its influence. “We’ve had nearly 10,000 people join us on this journey,” Johnnie proudly shared. “It’s about unlocking our collective genius and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

In a world driven by technology, initiatives like Black Tech Saturdays are not just transforming communities but also inspiring a new generation of tech leaders who are unapologetically Black and brilliant. As Johnnie aptly put it, “We’re not just building businesses, we’re building a legacy of innovation and empowerment.”

Updated: June 24, 2024 — 3:02 pm