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OUR PEOPLE

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

I want to see a world

where black men are amplified for positive news and stories, just as consistently as we have been amplified for negative news.

Cephas Williams

Cephas Williams

Founder / Photographer
 

Cephas is the photographer and founder of the 56 Black Men movement, after taking a series of 56 portrait images he launched the campaign in December 2018 focusing on changing the narrative of black men in the media as an introduction to a much wider conversation.

Utilising his degree in Architecture, Cephas also started working on Drummer Boy Studios in December 2017, his aim was to establish a creative hub in the community. Upon doing this Cephas was confused as to why things like this were not being spotlighted, after all the work and money he and his team put into creating this space within the community, he had also secured a partnership with BDP to become his official development partner for the business.

 

Despite this, he were still facing opposition from people in authority and not being spotlighted for 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 makes

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

 

At this time Cephas is looking at a new message towards a wider black British conversation through The Black British Network. In his recent public letter to his son titled Letter to Zion, Cephas explores a heart felt 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.

Director

Favourite Food

Currently don't have one

Favourite Movie

I don't really have a favourite movie, I have favourite movie moments, but recently I've been watching 'Ready Player One' a lot recently.

Favourite Book

The one I'm currently writing

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

When I was about 19 I applied for a retail job, the interview was taken by the CEO, in which I explained my vision and what I'd like to do on earth, she explained that she hadn't had a conversation like that in a long time, that she was inspired and wouldn't give me the job because she felt she would be holding me back from changing the world.

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

It's important to show black boys a different narrative when it comes to their identity, one that gives them hope and raises aspirations. 

Deborah  Obaseki

Deborah Williams

People + Finance

Deborah is a Director of 56 Black Men and works with Cephas across his business interests and projects, managing people and finance. 

 

Deborah is also the Founder of The Womens Association. Her passion finds its roots within the conversation of women and aims to help create a world where women believe they can be whoever they want to be. She does this by making women visible through her campaign ‘For The Woman’ which aims to make 4,000 women visible by March 2022. Also through ‘The Executive Challenge’ which aims to create access into industry for girls, while also changing systems and cultures that do not support the growth, development and overall fulfilment of women and girls within the workplace and society.


She works with organisations bringing new ideas to their Diversity & Inclusion agendas to help steer them away from a tick box approach through The Women’s Association corporate membership to help bring about systemic change. She has worked with companies such as Alfa Systems, Ernst & Young, British Army, Museum of London, Stella McCartney, The WOW Foundation and more. 

 

Her projects have impacted thousands of women and girls to date.

 

In 2019 Deborah completed 2 masters; Master in Business Administration (MBA) at Open university and an MA in Gender & Women's Studies at Lancaster University.

 

Director

Favourite Food

Anything to do with Salmon​

Favourite Movie

Crazy Rich Asians

Favourite Book

I can't choose between Who Says You Can't? You Do by Daniel Chidiac and Crushing by Bishop TD Jakes

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

That moment would be becoming a mum to my first child, Zion. It gave me a deeper appreciation for love and a new drive that I just never knew before.

In connection to The Women's Association it would be a time where I was working 2 part-time jobs, running 2 start-ups, whilst struggling financially to pay for 2 masters. I had no idea how I was going to pay for my degree and thought I would be kicked off the course. I went for a meeting for 1 of my startups and met with an amazing woman who noticed something was wrong, she asked what was up so I was honest with her and she sent me money for my university fees the day before it was due.

 

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

To instill belief in that year 9 black boy who wants to be an artificial intelligence scientist even though society tells him he can’t be. 

Harry Phinda

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

When I met my 99 year old grandad and he told my mum in my native language that I’m a special child.

Harry Phinda

Operations Coordinator

 

Harry has been an advocate for young people in Global advocacy for the past 9 years. He has represented Unicef, British Youth Council and Restless development in high-level conferences advocating for the rights of young people. He has given numerous speeches in Parliament, Party conferences and Number 10 and has remained consistent in his messaging of 'Young people are not just service users, they are world changers.'

In 2014, he co-founded Youth for Change Global. The success of Youth for Change has spread globally with regional offices in Tanzania, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Youth for Change has won numerous awards including the prestigious True Honour Award. At grass roots level he coordinated a National schools conference where they trained 200 school officials, teachers and police on Female genital mutilation and Early Forced Marriage to make schools a safer place. Since, Harry has worked as a researcher and consultant in UK politics. He has held a board position with Unicef for 5 years and is an official He for She ambassador for UN Women.

 

He was recently awarded the Queen Young Leader for his service in bettering the lives of young people in the Commonwealth. He received this award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2018.

core team

Favourite Food

Chicken & Waffles

Favourite Movie

Coach Carter

Favourite Book

Wild at Heart by John Aldridge

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

To instill belief in that year 9 black boy who wants to be an artificial intelligence scientist even though society tells him he can’t be. 

Harry Phinda

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

When I met my 99 year old grandad and he told my mum in my native language that I’m a special child.

Harry Phinda

Events

 

Harry has been an advocate for young people in Global advocacy for the past 9 years. He has represented Unicef, British Youth Council and Restless development in high-level conferences advocating for the rights of young people. He has given numerous speeches in Parliament, Party conferences and Number 10 and has remained consistent in his messaging of 'Young people are not just service users, they are world changers.'

In 2014, he co-founded Youth for Change Global. The success of Youth for Change has spread globally with regional offices in Tanzania, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Youth for Change has won numerous awards including the prestigious True Honour Award. At grass roots level he coordinated a National schools conference where they trained 200 school officials, teachers and police on Female genital mutilation and Early Forced Marriage to make schools a safer place. Since, Harry has worked as a researcher and consultant in UK politics. He has held a board position with Unicef for 5 years and is an official He for She ambassador for UN Women.

 

He was recently awarded the Queen Young Leader for his service in bettering the lives of young people in the Commonwealth. He received this award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2018.

Volunteer

Favourite Food

Chicken & Waffles

Favourite Movie

Coach Carter

Favourite Book

Wild at Heart by John Aldridge

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

Its important for

us to continue to be brave and challenge the status quo, reinforcing

a positive 

self fullfilling 

prophecy for our young black men. 

Caroline Forbes

Caroline Forbes

Specialist Partner | Clear Channel

Caroline is part of the 56 Black Men advisory board. Within her role as a specialist partner for Clear Channel she builds and maintains strong influential relationships in specialist agencies, identifying key stakeholders and creating networks of people who understand what and how they need to deliver for the Agency.

Caroline's client base ranges from the Dentsu Aegis and Publicis Agency networks. She is also the client lead for Clear Channel on Diageo and BT Group which includes EE and Plusnet.

 

Alongside this Caroline also takes up a role in Clear Channel as a Fairness Exec Sponsor. Elevating the companies Fairness value and supporting their Fairness initiative by collaborating and promoting within Clear Channels internal teams.

The introduction of the Fairness value to the Clear Channel business has been pivotal in Carolines growth and enjoyment away from the day to day. Her key areas of focus have been to develop the relationship with 56 Black Men and other initiatives within the scope of the companies Fairness pillars.

 

Advisor

Favourite Food

Caribbean

Favourite Movie

Don’t have one favourite movie, but here a few that will give you a sense of what I’m into 😊– The Godfather, There’s something About Mary, City of God and Gladiator

Favourite Book

My most interesting read in the last 6months has been ‘Natives - Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ by Akala (August 2019)

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

The birth of my children. Becoming a mother is my constant inspiration. My children have shaped my life and the energy I apply to all things that enable us to grow individually and as a collective.

 

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

It’s important that we dismantle the systemic negative image that the media portray of black men. I’m involved to help reconstruct this

image, so the next generation don't have to.

Jelissa Williamson

Jelissa Williamson

Social Media Manager + Admin

 

Harry has been an advocate for young people in Global advocacy for the past 9 years. He has represented Unicef, British Youth Council and Restless development in high-level conferences advocating for the rights of young people. He has given numerous speeches in Parliament, Party conferences and Number 10 and has remained consistent in his messaging of 'Young people are not just service users, they are world changers.'

In 2014, he co-founded Youth for Change Global. The success of Youth for Change has spread globally with regional offices in Tanzania, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Youth for Change has won numerous awards including the prestigious True Honour Award. At grass roots level he coordinated a National schools conference where they trained 200 school officials, teachers and police on Female genital mutilation and Early Forced Marriage to make schools a safer place. Since, Harry has worked as a researcher and consultant in UK politics. He has held a board position with Unicef for 5 years and is an official He for She ambassador for UN Women.

 

He was recently awarded the Queen Young Leader for his service in bettering the lives of young people in the Commonwealth. He received this award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2018.

Core Team

Favourite Food

Steak and/or lobster could never pick between the two.🦞🐂🙈

 

Favourite Movie

300 (This is Sparta!) 

Favourite Podcast

The Potters house at One LA 

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

 

I graduated from university with a creative BA(hons) and landing a job within the creative sector took a very long while. After many applications, when I finally got my first job role in the industry, I was told that it was because of my determination. You have to be determined about your passion. Never give up.

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

As a mother of a

black boy and the wife of a black man, I want to be part of a movement that not only changes their narratives but re-writes them and creates new ones. A narrative that is authentically and unapologetically black."

Natalie Zuze

PA to Cephas Williams & Head of Operations

With a degree in Sociology Natalie’s passion is deep rooted in human interaction and understanding the world in which we live in and how it shapes lives. 

 

Over the years Natalie has been heavily involved with her local church and the extensive community work they’ve carried out. Natalie worked and lead on several projects, one of them being Lewisham Churches United. This saw leaders from a variety of faith communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Christians gather along with Lewisham's Mayor Sir Steve Bullock at the time and local police. This was in response to the Woolwich attacks in the neighbouring borough of Greenwich. Natalie arranged for leaders from different faiths to gather as a symbol of community cohesion and solidarity and to discuss possitve ways forward for the community. 

 

Natalie works full time with Cephas across a range of his business interests and projects, she manages his diary and leads on Operations. Her current focus is around the work he has established with 56 Black Men and the Black British Network.

Core Team

Favourite Food

Oxtail and rice. Red pea soup. Ackee & saltfish. Basically, anything Caribbean.

Favourite Movie

Matrix. Shawshank Redemption. Harry Potter. ALL THINGS MARVEL!

Favourite Book

I’ve got LOADS so I’ll have to go with what I’m reading now - Chronicles of Brothers by Wendy Alec

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

The day I gave birth to my son and held him in my arms. The moment he was born I realised every eventuality leading up to that point made sense. I realised that 'facts' are not always 'true'. I realised that the female body, my body is terrifyingly amazing and full of strength that goes beyond human explanation. Instantly I discovered a love that runs so deep, it cannot be explained or quantified by this world. It was in that moment I experienced love in its truest purest form wrapped up in one tiny human.

 

Natalie Zuze

Why are you involved in 56 Black Men?

Because I am  

determined to change the paradigm for the next generation, that’s what responsible adults do.

Mervyn Lyn

Favourite Food

Yard food for sure, I was born in Jamaica and it’s my connection to my homeland. 

Favourite Movie

The Great Debaters

Favourite Book

Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela 

Mervyn Lyn

Founding Partner | Strategic Solutions Ltd

Mervyn is part of the 56 Black Men advisory board. With over 35 years of experience within the business of music. He was previously a Senior Executive for Sony Music Entertainment, working as the Vice President for Global Marketing (Europe) and VP Strategic Partnerships. Mervyn was Head of R&B Marketing for Europe at BMG before being appointed VP of European Marketing & Promotion. His first appointment post the merger was as VP Marketing for the domestic label. Mervyn served as GM Motown Records International through its distribution deal with Universal. He has worked with some of the greatest names in contemporary music including:  Whitney Houston, P Diddy, Pharrell, Usher, Beyoncé, Foo Fighters, Santana and The Notorious B.I.G. amongst others. He is a key member for The BPI’s EJAG (British Phonographic Industry’s Equality and Justice Advisory Group) as well as UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce who most recently launched a 10 point plan to tackle diversity and inclusion across the entire music business eco system.

 

Mervyns story alone serves as a source of encouragement to black boys in the community, starting his journey as a DJ to becoming a label manager for Virgin Records, BMG and Motown International, then becoming VP of Global Marketing and Strategic partnerships for Sony Music to now founding his own company Strategic Partnership Solutions Ltd.

Advisor

A moment that made a lasting impression on your life

We lost our father some years ago. He was a proud Jamaican/Chinese who took care me and my three brothers when he and my mother separated. We owed him a great deal and nothing gave me more pleasure than making him proud of my achievements. He never quite got to grips with the fact that working in the music industry was areal job until I got to Motown. Not work related but I remember him coming to see me fight at Crystal Palace in The London Youth Games. I fought for Enfield Ishinryu Karate Club and we were in the finals against a team from Kingston. I was still only a green belt but fighting is very much in the ‘Lyn’ bloodline. It was two wins each with the last fight to come which was me against a back belt from Kingston with my dad and my eldest brother in the audience. It was a real Roy of The Rovers ending where I won and as such we won the trophy. My dad was beside himself with glee as was my sensei who happened to also be the England team coach. The memory of my father’s face will live with me forever and when I’m down or stressed I see him looking over at me.

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