In an unprecedented move, OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, unveils the “Take A Knee” Campaign with a stunning masterpiece, Last Man Standing, by internationally acclaimed artist Addonis Parker. The protest art evokes the importance and burden of activism in America, featuring three football players kneeling during the national anthem. The Take A Knee Campaign is a nod to the national #TakeAKnee movement started by Colin Kaepernick and followed by over 180 football players including Eric Reid and Kenny Stills in which they refused to stand during the national anthem and instead took a knee in silent protest of police shootings of unarmed Black people and the need for criminal justice reform.
OneUnited Bank unveils Last Man Standing and the #TakeAKnee Campaign to take the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack Movement to the next level. The Bank will donate to the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU and to BMe Community, in honor of Leon Ford, a BMe Community Genius who is a survivor of police brutality, for each new customer that opens a checking account between now and December 31, 2018. The Bank will also extend an invitation to all OneUnited Bank customers to become a member of the ACLU.
We had the opportunity to learn more about Addonis Parker.
Tell us about how your work engages in social justice?
My work has always created a contrast with social injustice because historically, most who look like me has always been in question whether victim or victor. God has allowed me to create a platform without a megaphone to spark subconscious questions for those in power. Art is to be held as a quiet but sacred mouthpiece for the oppressed. You may not remember every word in a speech, but my visuals may haunt the memory card.
From your perspective, what is the role of art in activism?
Art is a key role in activism because of its lasting effect on the psyche. Signage, colors, backdrops, etc. – must be created to form a visual opinion about the mission and also a solution. All have been created and developed through mental blueprints of unmerited attacks.
Do you think art has the power to affect any kind of social change?
Absolutely, every political party has a mascot, and every business has a logo. If some form of art gains traction online or in your local community –It will force individuals to create a dialog about most issues that are uncomfortable to discuss in most public forums.
How did you begin your journey as an artist?
I was about 6 years old when I first began to draw with passion. I didn’t have a magnet school or proper training to look forward to. I didn’t know what was at the end of the road with being creative. I just knew I could not stop myself from creating. I never looked back. And neither did I care to do so.
What inspires you to embark upon a specific project?
I have to be spiritually led to undertake anything that I do. It is a deeply concentrated affair with my inner man.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you would have become?
I think I would have studied medicine or sports. I wanted a career that needed me as much as the world needs happiness. A successful career for me is to be in a position to where you are helping people all the times. I always want to invest in my community and provide a safety net for at-risk youth.