About Cephas Williams
Pictures of Cephas above taken by Sam Shaw
Cephas Williams is the founder and photographer behind the groundbreaking 56 Black Men campaign (2018), and Portrait of Black Britain (2021), he is the founder of The Black British Network launched alongside a letter Cephas penned to his first son Zion after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. He previously studied architecture and started his first business in 2009, in recent years Cephas created ‘Drummer Boy Studios’ in a bid to democratise access into the creative industry and the spaces/tool needed to thrive within it. Due to issues surrounding racism with the council at the time, Cephas stepped away from this business and set out to improve the systemic issues that often prohibit Black people from achieving their full potential.
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.
The campaigns Cephas has launched have reached both local and global audiences amassing millions of impressions and engagement across Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. His work has also been featured in major publications such as The Guardian, The Metro, The Independent, on Sky News, BBC, Channel 5 and Aljazeera amongst many 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, 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 he was doing. 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 set up the Black British Network (BBN), an organisation set up to dismantle systemic racism in the UK and create an equal playing field for Black people in the UK. The BBN has since signed up over 45 CEOs/Executives and 17 leading organisations in the UK, from Tesco, EY, Salesforce, O2 Telefonica, Clear Channel, Accenture, The Co-op Group, Sainsburys, Publicis Groupe and more. He has been successful in galvanising support for his vision for change, from business’ and key business leaders alongside friends such as Paul Polman (Ex CEO of Unilever), Simon Pegg and others.
At this time Cephas is focused on driving his vision for change concerning the Black British conversation through The Black British Network. In a public letter to his son titled Letter to Zion, Cephas explores a heartfelt message and his thoughts around the much needed change we need to see in the world, with specific reference to the Black community and the need for us to come together to see long lasting change.
Video of Cephas reading 'Letter to Zion'. Monoluge / Film
Picture of Cephas above taken by Colin Stout