Marc Carr grew up in Jennings, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis not far from Ferguson. His passion for social justice and entrepreneurship has led him to work on civil rights campaigns in the Deep South and organize community forums in the U.S. and West Africa.
Currently, Marc is the Program Director for Impact Hub DC, a community of social entrepreneurs and change makers. He has also gained a plethora of professional experience, both domestically and internationally, from work with McKinsey & Company, the United Nations Foundation, and AVIS Ghana.
In the wake of the Ferguson uprising, Marc founded Social Solution, an organization devoted to crowdsourcing tech solutions to solve intractable social problems. Social Solutions produces a monthly event series, the Capitol Innovation Forum, and the yearly Social Innovation Festival, and a podcast series- the Capitol Justice Podcast. Social Solutions also spearheads the Capitol Justice Lab, an initiative to reduce the incarceration rate in the nation’s capital by half in five years.
Recently, I caught up with Marc at Impact Hub, to get perspective on how he rises to the call of being a social justice warrior on mission to fight inequities created, and exacerbated by discriminatory criminal justice policies. Our full conversation, lightly edited for clarity, follows below.
1. Location: Washington, DC
2. Current Gig: Program Manager at Impact Hub DC / Founder of Social Solutions
3. One word that best describes how you work: Alone.
4. Current mobile device: iPhone 7
5. Current computer: Macbook Air and Google Chrome
6. First of all, tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
Grew up in the St. Louis area. I would define my parents as being woke. They made sure I understood that it was ok to be a black person. I saw the world through the lens of working class, regular black people. That lens has always informed my view in the world. I also had a brother who encouraged me to look past location. He was in the Military and lived all over the world, and brought home a beautiful African wife, and much more, that opened up my world.
My father ran a nonprofit for 40 years helping inner city kids prepare for college through sportsmanship. And my mother was a business owner. As I got older, going to school, and learning about society, I always grappled with the question of what can I do? I moved from a school that lacked, to a private school with much more opportunity and resources. I also ended up at Ole Miss where the history of slavery and racism still lingered. Later when I studied abroad in Europe I also noticed a lot of the same inequalities based on racial lines.
In college I got involved in a social activism group, SEED – Students Envisioning Equality through Diversity. Here is where I began to understand to organize campaigns and be a real advocate.
7. What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without? Apple Music. Books. Social Media Feed.
8. What’s your workspace setup like? Co-working, collaborative, and open, but also with space to lock myself in a quiet place to work alone.
9. What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? Calend.ly, allows folks I’m collaborating with outside of the organization to book a time to meet.
10. What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Old fashioned way, writing that shit down and crossing it out when I finish. But my calendar is essential, I live and breathe by it.
11. Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? Those are the only things I can think of, I’m pretty low-tech.
The race for social justice is a marathon and not a sprint.
12. What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? Organizing; people, processes, ideas, concepts, etc. What’s your secret? When things aren’t organized for me, I don’t understand it, so I’m always seeking to make sure I understand by asking how it works.
13. What do you listen to while you work? Jazz, Hip Hop, RnB, a little bit of Rock and Gospel. Specifically, my go-to’s are: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Theolonius Monk.
14. What are you currently reading? A bunch of freaking news articles. The Atlantic’s “What is White Supremacy.” Buzzfeed’s “Alt-White: How the Brietbart Machine Launched Racist Hate.” Current book on my to-read list, is the new Ta-Nehisi Coates book “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy.”
15. How do you recharge? Lock myself in the room and watch Netflix. What do you do when you want to forget about work? Netflix, read, music, and talk to a friend about non-work related things. Traveling. Gym. Going to a museum.
16. Fill in the blank: I’d love to see Jay Z answer these same questions.
17. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Best advice I received was from my Grandmother. She wasn’t saying it necessarily as advice, but it stood out to me, which is, “I don’t tell everything that’s on my mind, then you’ll know everything I know.” Sometimes folks don’t always need to know what’s on your mind.
18. Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans? The race for social justice is a marathon and not a sprint. How you finish the race is more important than how you began.
The How I Rise series asks rising black millennial voices to share personal stories of success, hustle and more in their work to break barriers and change the world.
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Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of TheArtOfPersptive.co and lead storyteller with a focus on music, startups and travel. His passion for storytelling was born in Kinshasa, Congo, groomed in Dallas, Texas, and cultivated in Washington, DC where he now resides. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. He loves reading factual-fiction, good podcasts, traveling, health and fitness, foreign languages and good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person.Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin | Website.
Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of TheArtOfPersptive.co and lead storyteller with a focus on music, startups and travel. His passion for culture was born in Kinshasa, Congo and bred in Washington, DC where he resides. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. He loves reading factual-fiction, good podcasts, traveling, health and fitness, foreign languages and good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person.Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin | MarielKanene.Flavors.me.