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There are dozens of ways to honor black icons but the Style Influencers Group, a network connecting influencers of color with brands chose budding key players in black media and a series of striking photos to honor black legends with a project titled We Are Black History. Activist and Organizer turned Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Deray Mckesson (Martin Luther King Jr0 is among the bevy of influential folks chosen. Poet/Educator Joshua Bennett (Frederick Douglas), Essence.com Digital Content Director Anslem Samuel Rocque (Jackie Robinson) and EBONY’s DIgital Culture Consultant Cory Townes (W.E.B Dubois) are also featured in the photos taken by Jerome A. Shaw.

Activist, Organizer and Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Deray Mckesson as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Activist, Organizer and Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Deray Mckesson as Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Writer and The Lowe Factor Founder Jared Michael Lowe as Langston Hughes

Writer and The Lowe Factor Founder Jared Michael Lowe as Langston Hughes

 

CEO of Kings Rule Together Clothing Curran J. as Malcolm X

CEO of Kings Rule Together Clothing Curran J. as Malcolm X

View the full photo series here and check out the behind the scenes video footage over at Essence.

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  • Jo ‘Mama’ Besser

    Is there a reason that only men are featured?

    • blogdiz

      Yes because all the black people are men and all the women are white, black women do not exist

    • Jo ‘Mama’ Besser

      Oh, we do, we’re just a subcategory that pees sitting down and shows up to Black Man Drama protests. We reside in the shadows and our half life is only about twelve minutes so it makes sense that no one would see or acknowledge us. It’s probably silly for me to have asked, I should’ve known better.

    • Yahmo Bethere

      *GUFFAW* seriously, I’m dying over here.

    • Yahmo Bethere

      Is that a doozer in your pic?

    • Jo ‘Mama’ Besser

      He’s a character from a cartoon/book series originally named Colargol. If you’re from Canada and listened to the English translation (i.e. me) he’s Jeremy. He’s a little bear who has some weird old good and bad adventures, such as:

      – being a performing bear who was held hostage and forced to perform at the circus, after not being allowed to leave when he got homesick.

      – getting lost at the bottom of a lake when it freezes over on him (he lost the magic whistle the King of the Birds gave him).

      – being kidnapped by pirates at sea and forced to do their ship’s labour and escaping to the North Pole

      – being falsely imprisoned for burning down a music festival

      It’s kind of the cutest thing that exists.

  • Mico

    This is beautiful and I am glad that Joshua Bennett is making some noise but are Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Fannie Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth, etc not black people who made significant contributions for black people and our struggle for freedom and America itself.

    • Adebisi’s Hat

      Agreed. I would’ve loved to see Harriet Tubman, Claudette Colvin, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Amelia Boynton Robinson and others reimagined in this way.

    • Objection

      I could be wrong, but I clicked on the link for Style Influencers Group, the company is founded by three beautiful black women. The title for this picture is called “LoveBrownSugar.” I think the women wanted a picture of black men they respected. Just my thoughts.

    • blogdiz

      Well you know @ objection the same way some black people are white identified and suffer from internal racism there are black women who can be very male identified and suffer from internal misogyny IMO a lot of AA BW are like this, lifting up BM on their heads and content to be invisible . The fact that this was done by BW doesn’t really negate the relevance of Mico’s question
      Just my thoughts :-)

    • Objection

      You could be right, but I know how difficult it is for black women to start a business. Black women who are business minded are not usually the type of women you described in my experience.

      As a man, I wouldn’t want to do a publication of black men for black history month. I would won’t a publication with accomplished beautiful black women. I can talk with black men at the gym, lol.

    • blogdiz

      OK then I will give you that LOL

    • Mico

      I am torn between both you and blogdiz’s points. I did check out the website and was hoping to see more content featuring women. I didn’t think of it from your point of view that maybe these were men/people that inspired these women. However, I do feel like the title should have reflected that as in ‘Black Men in History’ or something. And I can also see where blogdiz is coming from in that sometimes just like black/poc are entrenched in white supremacy, women can also be entrenched in patriarchy and even subconsciously reflect those ideals. In the end it is a beautiful project and I am happy that these men (past and present) are being honored and taught about for other generations. However, we must never forget to also honor and teach about the many black women that fought/are fighting for us and that made/are making contributions to our stuggle.

    • Objection

      However, we must never forget to also honor and teach about the many black women that fought/are fighting for us and that made/are making contributions to our stuggle.

      I agree with you 100%.

  • This is very similar to the little black children (in another series) paying homage to black heroes too. Such images such inspire us to research more about black history. All of the time, I learn something new about black history. Our leaders are diverse from Frederick Douglas to Steve Biko and Harriet Tubman. Yet, our heroes wanted the same goal which is freedom and justice. For thousands of years, black people have fought for real change and developed communities. We are in this journey still. Blood, sweat, and tears encompass our journey, but quitting is not in our DNA. It is quite providential that during this time, we remember the past and we must also realize succinctly that black history is part of the present too. Many heroic Brothers and Sisters presently are standing up against mass incarceration, the poisoned waters in Flint, and other outrageous injustices that plague the world. We are from a strong ancestry and we acknowledge the sacrifice of our ancestors, who gave their lives for a better future. Today, we not only respect the leaders of the past. We work to promote a better future. Black History is being made now as well. We act in defiance against the evils of class oppression and racial injustice. We desire the human family to live without bigotry. We want our black people to have adequate housing, great health care, accurate education, and economic justice. So, we will continue to promote the commitment to black cultural growth and the love of our black people.

  • Rizzo

    beautiful and thoughtful project … loved Joshua Bennett as Frederick Douglas

  • Mary Burrell

    Beautiful photography