They are typically opponents on the basketball court but in this venture, they are teaming up together. According to the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls are connecting to launch a virtual Black History Classroom Exchange program.
The program is a first of its kind, multi-year partnership between the two teams. This program is slated to give students in Chicago and Tulsa the opportunity to learn about two historically tragic events in U.S. Black history that are often left out of schools’ curriculum–the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
“Reflecting on Black history gives us all a chance to learn from the past while we continue to work towards justice and equity in our future,” said Adrienne Scherenzel-Curry, senior director of community relations, Chicago Bulls, in a written statement. “We are proud to partner with the Thunder to help form a bridge between students in Chicago and Tulsa, giving them a unique opportunity to connect, explore ties between these moments in our cities’ histories, and inspire each other to find innovative ways to uplift their communities.”
This program comes two years after the centennial recognition of the Chicago Race Riot and about just in time for the 100-year mark of the Tulsa Race Massacre this spring. The Black History Classroom Exchange Program aims to bring notice to the past in an effort to empower the future and encourage students to explore ways to expand economic empowerment within their communities.
“Black history is a vital component of the history of our state and our country,” said Christine Berney, vice president of community relations for the Thunder. “Partnering with the Bulls for this classroom exchange gives us the chance to highlight these chapters of American history that were previously not discussed for decades in both Tulsa and Chicago. Launching this program just ahead of the centennial recognition of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre provides us with phenomenal resources to highlight the significance of Black Wall Street and the resilience of the Greenwood District in Tulsa. Through this education exchange, we can elevate these historical events that are integral to how we view and understand our society today.”
Students from African American history classes from Chicago’s South Shore International High School and Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School will participate virtually in six interactive workshops together. The teams have worked with the Obama Foundation, the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to help with building out the curriculum for the workshop. The formats will include lessons with mixed media resources, guest speakers, and roundtable discussions.
To learn more about this program, the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, fans can visit OKC Thunder’s classroom exchange for additional content and resources.