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Portrait of Black Britain

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

MAV UK are proud of the work completed by Cephas Williams. The Portrait of Black Britain series came to the Arndale Shopping Centre. Patsy McKie MAV UK's Founder member and Trustee was featured in the portraits of Black British people of influence. The portrait of Patsy highlighted her previous work as a social worker. It also paid tribute to her role in the community. Patsy was featured with others that have been involved with MAV UK projects. The portraits also included; Dr Dawn Edge Professor of Mental Health and Inclusivity, James Gregory Families Against Violence and Akeim Mundell.

Cephas Williams

Cephas is the founder and photographer behind the ground-breaking 56 Black Men campaign and Drummer Boy Studios. He previously studied architecture and started his first business in 2009.

After taking a series of portrait photographs of 56 Black Men in hoodies, he launched '56 Black Men' as a campaign in the UK to change the narrative regarding black men in the media and as an introduction to a much wider conversation.

Since launching the campaign on the 23rd of December 2018, it has had both a local and global impact, and has since been featured in The Guardian, The Metro, The Independent, on Channel 5, Sky News, BBC and Aljazeera amongst others, creating both a local and global impact.

Cephas believes everyone should have a fair chance to change their narrative and so utilising his degree in Architecture, he created Drummer Boy Studios in 2017. Cephas set out to merge his passion for architecture and his passion for the community in a bid to create physical spaces that cater to those who often suffer the brunt of gentrification. The studio ran as a creative hub, a workspace with creative facilities; conducive for growth, innovation and collaboration for people interested in the creative sector including industries such as Music, Film, Media, Enterprise, Fashion and Gaming. Upon doing this, Cephas was confused as to why things like this were not being spotlighted in the media, after all the work and money and time put into creating this space within the community and the success it gained. He had also secured a partnership with BDP to become the official development partner for the business. Despite this, he was still facing opposition from people in the local council office and not being supported with the positive work being done. This pushed him to think about how many more Black men are doing great things but are never heard or spotlighted. Cephas started to question further, why is it that things like this never make headline news? And why the prevailing headline news about Black men was always surrounding knife crime or violence here in the UK. As a result, he decided to create the 56 Black Men campaign to challenge the negative stereotypes of Black men in the media and spotlight positive achievements of the black men through the series or portrait images.

In recent years Cephas has been successful in galvanising support for his businesses from key partners and industry leaders including companies such as Accenture, EY, O2 Telefonica and Clear Channel as well as people such as, Paul Polman (Ex CEO of Unilever), Simon Pegg and others.

At this time Cephas is focused on a new message towards a wider Black British conversation.

MAV UK are please to support Cephas’s most recent project and encourage you to take some time to see it at the Manchester Arndale Centre Manchester.

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