Broderick Flanigan was born and raised in Athens, GA. He graduated from Clarke Central High School in 2002 and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. He came back to Athens in 2011 and works as a visual artist/painter, community organizer, advocate for youth empowerment, small business consultant and founder of Enlightened Media Productions. He lives on the West Side of Athens with his wife Tammy Kirksey Flanigan.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Originally I was meeting a lot of resistance in my chosen field. I was not finding a lot of room for growth there, so I went back to school at Athens Tech to pursue a second degree in physical therapy assisting and I had to take some prerequisites before I applied to that program. One of those was Art Appreciation and through that class and the way the professor taught that class, I was able to really rekindle my passion for the arts, painting and drawing and stuff, that I have had since I was young. I’ve always been very intrigued by art and drawing, trying to replicate illustrations from my text books; I’ve always just loved to draw. I never thought I could make a career out of it really, though. That class led me down the path to making art and working with youth and owning my own business [Flanigan’s Portrait Studio]. It’s been a journey, and through learning about some of the difficulties that youth face in communities like this it led me to doing more advocacy work in the political sphere, recognizing that a lot of the issues that the community face are policy driven and can be addressed through policy change. That’s why I began organizing and being more engaged in political spaces, to advocate around some of those issues, the issues I saw the families who came here to do art were facing.
What is one solution to some of the problems you see facing our community that you would like to see implemented?
I’m interested in the idea of “Baby Bonds,” like individual development accounts. They’ve done it some in Europe. The idea of it is that children who are born into poverty get this account set up for them that will mature when they turn 18 or 25 and they can use it as a down payment on a house, or for education or training. People like Senator Cory Booker and some African American economists, like Sandy Darity, have been talking about the concept. What if we were able to get private money and collect private money and put it into an account for children who are born into poverty? In order to be financially literate you have to have finances. I feel like it would a good place to start.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Athens and what do you love there?
I have a few. I love Manaweenta on the East Side because I love Ethiopian Eritrean flavors. I also like Food for the Soul.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I recently discovered through my ancestry results that my ancestors were from West Africa. So I would go there. I’ve been to Kenya before. But I would love to visit a West African country to better understand my lineage. That’s important to me.
What is your favorite movie and/or what was the first movie you remember seeing in a movie theater?
My favorite movie growing up was Shaka Zulu. I was so in awe of his resilience and his strength and power standing up to colonialism. It was a sight to see even at a young age, though I didn’t really understand everything. And the first movie I ever saw in a theater was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That was a good one. My mom’s friend took me and we ate popcorn and I remember it pretty well.
What advice do you often give?
Keep showing up. Keep working hard. Learn your craft; try to perfect your craft. I always tell young people find out what you are passionate about and try to turn that into your career.
What’s on your bucket list?
I would love to go skydiving sometime. I’ve always wanted to try that. Both a tandem and a solo jump.
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?
Go to some of the music venues and see music. They have a monthly jazz night at The Foundry that I really enjoy.
If you could see any band dead or alive anywhere, who would you want to see and where?
One of my favorite artists is Marvin Gaye, so I’d love to see him in concert anywhere, like maybe the Georgia Theater.
What’s something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A lot of people don’t know I play trumpet. I played in school and some after, playing in 3 and 4 piece groups at African American History events and stuff. Also, I love Cajun boiled peanuts, most people don’t know that about me.
What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word home?
Family, Community and Wealth