Super Bowl Murals: Muhammad Yungai Sees Education As Atlanta's Civil Rights Legacy

Jan 29, 2019

Dozens of murals celebrating Atlanta’s social justice history are going up before the Super Bowl.

It's part of an intitiative called "Off The Wall" that curated 11 artists to create art around the city.

Atlanta artist, Muhammad Yungai, painted his new art installation, “Helping Hands,” with one message in mind: the importance of education.

GPB's Sophia Saliby spoke with Yungai over the phone about how he incorporated the city's civil rights history into his art.

Yungai describes his piece of work as a mural, though, it is a painted art installation hanging in the Woodruff Library.

On what his installation looks like

When you look at my mural, you're going to see a lot of hands, and the hands create a pathway for four kids to walk on. On the sleeves of the hands that are holding up these kids, you see the names of these great civil rights leaders, and all of these people also have very strong ties to Atlanta. I didn't just want to highlight Martin Luther King or paint Joseph E. Lowery. I really wanted to talk about the era that came after that. What does success look like for those sacrifices that those people made?

On the message of his installation

This mural is a call to action for education. I feel that it's the biggest equalizer for oppression. These are the things that those people fought for was the opportunities, so that they could have families, have careers and live the life that they wanted to live.

Why he sees education as important

I got married at 19. I had my first child at 19, but I beat the odds. I found out how difficult it was to be a parent and to be an adult without education. I wanted to impart those lessons that I learned and let them know how much easier your life could be, having education.

How he wants to impact of his art to go beyond the Super Bowl

I don't know if hope and inspiration sounds corny, but I really like to deal with what can we do now to give opportunities to people, to make people feel like there is something worth striving for. I really want the people who come to Atlanta to have a great time and experience a vibrant and colorful city. But then after they leave, we still want these murals to be relevant for the communities that they are created for. 

This conversation was edited for content and clarity.