December 25, 2023

Black Tech Saturdays: Cultivating Diversity, Joy, And Prosperity In Detroit’s Thriving Tech Ecosystem

Black Tech Saturdays

Black Tech Saturdays is an initiative amplifying Black representation in technology, originated from the vision of Detroit-based couple Johnnie and Alexa Turnage

Inspired by the tech ecosystem in Baltimore and guided by the equitech framework, the Turnages expanded their mission to cultivate wealth and community for Black tech professionals. 

This movement is not just about fostering professional connections; it embodies the pursuit of “Black joy” – the freedom to pursue dreams with creativity and impact.

The Detroit-Baltimore Connection

With a background in grassroots organizing and influenced by Dug Song, co-chair of Baltimore Homecoming, Johnnie Turnage envisioned a collaborative approach. 

“We always work hard to try to bring an equity lens through all the work we did. But it was really when Dug Song and I started getting a lot closer, and he mentored me,” Turnage told

“He’d always tell stories about Baltimore and how equity worked in Baltimore because of just federal dollars and what it did for the community.”

He noted similarities between Detroit and Baltimore, particularly regarding challenges, opportunities, and the significant role of Black women in economic development. 

“When you just walk the streets of Baltimore, it reminds me of Detroit, in terms of our growth, in terms of how art and culture grow it. But also even down to the fact that Black women are driving a lot of the economic push in Detroit as well,” said Turnage.

The Turnages’ connection with Baltimore was further strengthened by their interaction with Luke Cooper of Latimer Ventures and Angel St. Jean of the Equity Brain Trust. 

This collaboration brought the Black Tech Saturdays experience to Baltimore, highlighting the unique characteristics Black professionals bring to the tech industry.

Celebrating Success and Fostering Community

Black Tech Saturdays concluded its first year in Detroit with a holiday showcase featuring artist exhibits and interactive sections for children.

It provided a platform for Black entrepreneurs to display their work and network, emphasizing the importance of community in the growing tech industry. 

This initiative has significantly succeeded in Detroit, promoting diversity and innovation while creating connections among local businesses.

Detroit’s Tech Ecosystem and the MEDC’s Role

Detroit, recognized for its burgeoning tech ecosystem, has received active support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in creating job opportunities and supporting Black entrepreneurs. 

The MEDC’s initiatives, including partnerships with universities and talent attraction campaigns, demonstrate a commitment to fostering an inclusive tech community. 

The MEDC’s support for Black Tech Saturdays and its founders has been instrumental in the program’s growth and success.

Future Prospects

The founders of Black Tech Saturdays have created a space where Black tech enthusiasts can learn, innovate, and collaborate, thereby challenging stereotypes and fostering genuine community growth.

They have successfully hosted workshops, networking events, and mentorship programs, aiding entrepreneurs in securing deals and funding.

The Turnages’ vision for Detroit, focusing on training and leveraging federal funding, aims to propel the city’s tech ecosystem further and support local entrepreneurs.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.