The 56 Black Men campaign to change negative stereotypes and narratives about black men celebrated its one year anniversary in style last month.
Launched by entrepreneur and photographer Cephas Williams in December 2018, 56 Black Men is a series of 56 portraits of black men from all walks of life, showing their diversity of talent and aspiration in an effort to challenge negative portrayals of black men in society.
The anniversary party celebrated the campaign’s success so far, and was an opportunity to plan for more action in future.
Held at The Warehouse in SE16’s Stockholm Road, among the hundreds of guests were songwriter and producer JUNGLEBOI, dancers from GDND, and students from south Bermondsey performing arts school Amplified Arts Academy.
Williams said: “It is time the media and society stopped portraying black men as perpetrators or victims of violence and crime and started spotlighting the incredible things the black community are doing with a specific focus on black men who have more often than not been represented in a negative light.”
In 2018, the portraits were displayed on billboards across the UK and quickly went viral online – including one image put up on Peckham High Street.
Last year, the campaign held a special Father’s Day event in Peckham, highlighting positive role models.
Some of the faces of the campaign include Raphael Dapaah, a commercial policy advisor for the civil service, and founder of Dapaah Chocolates; primary school teacher and part-time journalist Trevon Muhammad; Sky and Football Daily presenter and production assistant Samuel Obaseki; Shane Ryan, the Big Lottery Fund’s head of partnerships; top dentist David O’Milegan; and Tottenham MP David Lammy.
In all portraits the men are wearing a black hoodie, championing the idea “I am not my stereotype”.