100 Black Men of London, a community-led charity with branches across the United States, the Caribbean and the UK, revealed a new Heroes project last week.
The organisation is spearheaded by Black men across the globe and has been active in London since 2001. Its commitment to delivering programmes and activities that focus on mentoring, education and health for 10 – 16-year-olds has helped empower Black communities, all the while cementing the charity as one of the world’s largest networks of Black mentors.
“100 Black Men of London is all about the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the Afro-Caribbean community,” says Ola Oyalegan, the charity’s president.
“There has never been a better time to collaborate, build new alliances and work together to uplift, engage and inspire our young people.”
Photographed by Face contributor Benjamin Hampson and styled by PC Williams, the Heroes photo series focuses on young mentors (sometimes called “diamonds”) with a view to “shine a light on young Black excellence,” says Williams.
“Through the Black Lives Matter movement I have been meeting and collaborating with various organisations and community groups. When this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Being able to be part of this, to me, is a form of activism.”
The beautiful, soft photographs strikingly showcase the mentors set against vibrant backgrounds. “We wanted to create a set of portraits that celebrated them for their selfless contribution to the wider community,” says Williams.
“Ben wanted them to be painterly and heroic, and in terms of styling, I really wanted to use the 100 Black Men T‑shirts while emphasising each mentor’s individuality.”
Indeed, these images speak to the unity and strength of the 100BMOL community, and it was important for Hampson and Williams to create something as meaningful as the work the charity undertakes in helping young people become positive mentors for their peers.