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Young Artist Honors Black Icons With Playing Cards


Kearra Johnson was studying art at the University of Missouri when she found her passion project, elevating a standard deck of playing cards with images of Black icons.

KEARRA JOHNSON: I just really wanted to do something that was, like, inspired by me, really, my Black self and just me tapping into my creative mind and really just put my whole self creatively and physically into a project.


But first, she would need to figure out who's faces should be included.

JOHNSON: I really just was looking into my Black history and seeing, like, who were the important figures? Who are the dominant ones that people should know more about? And who left the most impact on our culture?

MARTIN: And so Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King and Oprah Winfrey made the cut.

KING: The 22-year-old artist is now a digital designer. She founded Studio LO in Kansas City. She calls her creation Revolution Card Deck. It inspires her. And she hopes it inspires other people, too.

JOHNSON: I want people to be able to have conversations about these people while you're at a game night where it's fun, but you also can leave with, like, a powerful conversation or, really, just being inspired.

KING: She has more ideas for fusing great faces into playing cards. And she wants to make sure her idea endures beyond just the next couple of days.

JOHNSON: I want to make sure that this goes beyond Black History Month, because Black history shouldn't only be celebrated in February. It should be celebrated forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF KEEM THE CIPHER'S "BLOSSOM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.