Murals near stadium highlight Atlanta's civil rights legacy In this Dec. 13, 2018, photo, Muhammad Yungai paints mural on a building near the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. A series of about 30 murals on walls around the downtown Atlanta stadium that will host the Super Bowl aims to highlight Atlanta's civil rights legacy. The murals are part of an initiative called "Off The Wall: Atlanta's Civil Rights and Social Justice Journey." (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Murals near stadium highlight Atlanta's civil rights legacy
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Atlanta is getting ready to host the Super Bowl. Artists there are painting murals. The murals highlight the city's civil rights and social justice legacy.

The game will be played at a downtown stadium. Artwork adorns the neighborhoods near the stadium. It is part of an initiative called "Off The Wall: Atlanta's Civil Rights and Social Justice Journey." The project is a collaboration between arts advocacy group WonderRoot and the Super Bowl host committee. 

The murals' installation was timed to coincide with the Feb. 3 sports extravaganza. But they are meant to be lasting public works of art for Atlantans. They should enjoy them long after the football fans have left.

The idea was to celebrate Atlanta's role in the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. It is intended to connect that rich legacy with more contemporary struggles for justice and equality. That's according to Chris Appleton. He is WonderRoot's executive director.

"We definitely have works that, for good reason, make Atlanta proud of its role in the civil rights movement and the human rights movement. We have murals that invite and challenge us in Atlanta to continue striving for that beloved community," Appleton said.

The term "beloved community" was made popular by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was an Atlanta native. He described a society centered on equal opportunity and justice and rooted in the philosophy of nonviolence.

Several dozen "community conversations" brought out unheard and untold stories. The stories were about the struggle for justice that needed to be elevated. That's according to Appleton. The artists sat in on those conversations. They used them to inform their mural designs. The designs then went through two rounds of community feedback.

"I really believe the artists have done a great job of amplifying and complexifying narratives around justice issues in Atlanta and beyond." That is according to Appleton. "The murals, as a collection, are celebratory in some cases. They are aspirational in some cases and are rooted in truth-telling."

A nomination and selection committee invited artists from around the country to apply. The panel chose 10 applicants. There was also an 11th spot that was dubbed "Atlanta's choice." It was open only to Atlanta area artists. It was voted on by the public. In total, they plan to install roughly 30 murals.

Muhammad Yungai was the muralist selected by public vote. He drew inspiration from a community conversation held at Spelman College. There, he learned about students who volunteered at a nearby community farm.

His mural is called "Community Roots." It is on a wall in Atlanta's Castleberry Hill neighborhood. It showcases actual students from four historically black colleges and universities in Atlanta. The schools include Spelman and Morehouse. It includes Clark Atlanta and Morris Brown. 

He wanted to shine a light on the four schools. They sit a stone's throw from Mercedes Benz Stadium where the Super Bowl will be played. The murals shine a light on urban farming and community gardening.

Muhammad Yungai is 44 years old. He is a middle school art teacher and a professional muralist. He says his work often focuses on education.

"I believe education is the biggest thing that we can do as a culture to ensure that everyone can achieve the life they want," Yungai said.

Shanequa Gay is 40. She was inspired by a community conversation at Covenant House. It provides housing and support. It is for homeless young people. Her mural is called "Excuse me while I kiss the sky." It adorns the walls of the Vine City transit station, across the street from the stadium.

Gay said she wanted to represent people who sleep under the trees and bushes. The mural has dark outlines of leaves and flowers. She said these are inspired by Georgia's abundant vegetation. They are layered over brightly colored profiles of young people. She met them at Covenant House.

"I went and took photographs of these young people making kissy faces to kind of humanize homelessness because we don't attribute kissing with being homeless — or joy or laughter or young people," she said.

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COMMENTS (30)
  • Nicolas A-mag
    2/01/2019 - 07:06 p.m.

    Atlanta is fillling up with murĂ¡is that highlight civil rights, takingadvantage of the soon super bowl, reflect civil rights and social justice.
    They did i ton these date to coincide with the sporting activity nex february 3, this is why atlanta is proud of the role that citizens are demostrating.

  • Alheli R-mag
    2/01/2019 - 07:11 p.m.

    "The murals, as a collection, are celebratory in some cases. They are aspirational in some cases and are rooted in truth-telling." in this article talk about people that are painting murals in Atlanta becuase the super bowl is soon to happen and this art is like a way to show us Atlanta through the time and the name of this initiative say is a "Off The Wall: Atlanta's Civil Rights and Social Justice Journey."
    This situation show us how a imagen, and mural or something like that can inspire to make aware.

  • Guadalupe M-mag
    2/01/2019 - 07:11 p.m.

    Atlanta now has many attractions throughout the city. To my point of view one of the most important is the center for civil rights and serves to know a little more about the city of Atlanta. the idea of ??the murals near the stadium where an important event will take place, I think it is an idea to represent several issues among them justice to be able to make known a little the city of Atlanta from another prespective of the people.

  • Blanca A-mag
    2/01/2019 - 08:24 p.m.

    Talk about initiative called "Off The Wall: Atlanta's Civil Rights and Social Justice Journey."
    Also of the civil rights movement and the human rights movement. in some murals real things, there were several murals , too different but the chose a winner.

  • Nancy M-mag
    2/01/2019 - 09:59 p.m.

    I liked this publication because it talks to you about the murals they make for extravagance and what we like and that attracts our attention. In my country, Mexico is called graffiti and it is said that it is visual contamination from my point of view it is art aser murals since it is a form of expression.

  • Jaqueline V-mag
    2/01/2019 - 09:59 p.m.

    I think it is a good idea to paint the murals highlighting civil rights and the legacy of social justice so through them a positive message is given to the people who will visit this country through the Super Bowl and it shows the struggle they had in Atlanta for civil rights

  • Dassaed S-mag
    2/01/2019 - 10:18 p.m.

    My comment is about, Atlanta is getting ready to host the Super Bowl where some artists are painting murals where they represent civil rights of the city and social justice legacy,
    the project is a collaboration of Between arts advocary group WandeRoot and the Super Bowl hast comite. It is intended to connect that rich legacy with more contemporany struggles for justice and equality. Muhammad Yungai was the muralist selectec by public vote.

  • Selena J-mag1
    2/01/2019 - 10:46 p.m.

    In my opinion, the idea of the murals in Atlanta I do not like much, since I am the enemy of urban art and things, but if I put in the place of those who want to speak through a painted drawing with their own hands and imagination seems a good way to enforce your rights in a peaceful and artistic way.

  • Ruben G-mag
    2/02/2019 - 12:12 a.m.

    Atlanta wants to make the most of the Super Bowl arrival and with its murals capture attention and represent their disagreement in the paintings that will take place in the streets made by artists from there we all have to capture his message and realize that we are already Living a different topicality than the years ago

  • Issac F-mag
    2/02/2019 - 12:29 a.m.

    nowadays the mexican people should make the difference with new king of ideas or changes about our form to describe the people, for example nowadays we have a problem to describe the color of skin, is very common to find in anyplace or any neighbourhood
    guys with nicknames example: "el prieto", "el negro" o "el palido". If today Mexico had an initiative for the creation of murals with messages of change perhaps and only perhaps we could understand that we are all equal.

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