Thunder Fellows program prepares next generation of Black Wall Street

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Thunder Fellows program prepares next generation of Black Wall Street
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More than a century after the Tulsa Race Massacre attempted to destroy Black Wall Street, ‘Seeds of Greenwood’ takes audiences on a journey that shows a glimpse of the new roots taking hold in the next generation of Greenwood.

An OKC Thunder Films production, ‘Seeds of Greenwood’ highlights the inaugural class of students who participated in the Thunder Fellows program, a curriculum that teaches students skills in data and analytics to prepare them for alternative careers in the tech, sports and entertainment industries.

Birthed out of a desire to close opportunity gaps following the police murder of George Floyd in 2020, Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and Creative Arts Agency executive Mike Johnson, who were both childhood friends, came together to honor the Historic Greenwood community and help to plant the next generation of seeds.

Thunder Fellows program prepares next generation of Black Wall Street

Thunder Fellows is a 30-week mentorship program for Black teens in Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District (Thunder Fellows)

‘Seeds of Greenwood’ documentary highlights Thunder Fellows program near Black Wall Street

The film follows 26 ninth and 10th graders from schools around the Tulsa metro as they participated in the after-school program, which includes hands-on data and analytics experience to prepare students for a career in tech, sports or entertainment industries.

“I realized that each of these kids are incredible individuals. They have their own backgrounds, their own fears, their own passions, interests,” Thunder Fellows Executive Director Cedric Ikpo told The Black Wall Street Times.

He said even though the program focuses on data and analytics, “some of the kids want to be writers. Some of them want to be animators, some of them want to be in the medical space.”

Thunder Fellows program prepares next generation of Black Wall Street

Cedric Ikpo, executive director of Thunder Fellows, speaks during a panel on tech and generational wealth during the second annual Black Wall Street Legacy Fest inside the Greenwood Cultural Center on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Mike Creef / The Black Wall Street Times)

For Ikpo, it’s about setting students up for a successful future in line with the spirit of the original Black Wall Street.

“I hope this shows the general public what can happen when you invest time and resources into our future,” Ikpo added.

The 50-minute documentary passionately captures the essence of the program, which serves Black high school students in Tulsa.

The deadline to apply to Thunder Fellows for the 2022-23 school year is Sept. 2. For more information, visit thundefellows.org. To watch the ‘Seeds of Greenwood’ documentary, visit okcthunderfilms.com.

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