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As we embrace Black History Month, well-rounded conversations with community leaders like NAACP Image Award honoree and Art for Amnesty Creative Director, Marvin Bing are imperative.

Bing spoke with The Source about the social injustices covering the news in 2015, the very creative Art For Amnesty #ArtForSocialJustice exhibit he recently worked on with Usher, personal Black History heroes and more. The #ArtForSocialJustice Exhibit was crazy. Did it turn out the way you expected?


Marvin Bing: It turned out better than I expected actually. Before events or moments we always set these goals, but you never can fully understand or appreciate the magnitude of something until you see it happening and that emotion hits you in real time.

Did you ever think you would get an opportunity to work with Usher?

Coming from where I come from in life, absolutely not. The universe keeps surprising me.

What’s the motivation behind doing what you do for Art for Amnesty?

What I do for Art For Amnesty is simply uplifting, elevating, and integrating the genius and work of the creative community into the campaigns and programs of Amnesty International USA, with a little bit of culture (and outside of the traditional box ways, of course).

With this being Black History Month, who’s a hero that inspires you?

Two actually: Bill Lynch and Hazel Dukes, for which without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. From an historical perspective, I would have to say Gordon ParksElizabeth Catlett and Carrie Mae Weems. I’m super interested in creating Black history in the current context, so I would say people like Kara Walker, Shantell MartinDavid White and Virgil Abloh, and Kerby Jean-Raymond, Sophia Dawson, Chris Gibbs, Adrian Franks, Ava DuVernay, Nate Parker and so many others who are making history every single day.

You’re being honored by the NAACP at the Image Awards, how great is that for you?

It’s very special to me as a former employee of the association, a current member in good standing, and as someone who appreciates legacy organizations who’ve paved the way for people like me.

What are your thoughts on the social injustices that blanketed the news in 2015?

It’s almost like our history books came to life. Police killing unarmed Black men, woman, and children (and legally getting away with it). Our prison industrial complex has grown bigger, inequality in our education systems, the use of solitary confinement, the death penalty, and so many other things with domestic and abroad is overwhelming. A bright spot, if any, is hundreds of thousands of nameless and faceless young people are taking to the streets, courts, schools, and organizing to make change possible for our generation.

What should we expect from Art for Amnesty going forward into 2016?

Art For Amnesty has some special things coming: dope collaborations, some more art shows focused on our criminal justice system and gun violence, documentary and a potential book related to our work.

What is your advice to young Black people?

I have to take this from a guy I look up to, Emory “Vegas” Jones: prove people wrong! People will doubt you, talk bad about you (even when they don’t know you), people will try to block you but never doubt that your heart and passion will carry you through, and surround yourself with good, honorable people.

Who are you going for in Super Bowl 50?

Carolina for the culture and I want to see the “dab” in the big game!

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