Cephas Williams project features letters from Black boys to their future selves

The letters are addressed by the children to their older selves, and detail the world that they’d like to see in the future. The project, which will appear on billboards in the UK, is created to mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder

Cephas Williams and mental health charity Mind in Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing and Hounslow in London have teamed up one year on from the murder of George Floyd to promote a message of hope from Black boys in the community.

The World I Want to See is a collection of letters that came out of a series of workshops co-facilitated by Williams and professionals from HFEH Mind. Within the workshops, Black boys wrote letters to their older selves about the world they would like to see and what they need to do to create it.

Through writing, it was hoped that the boys could explore and process their thoughts and feelings, particularly drawing on the impact of the pandemic and the shocking murder of George Floyd last year. As well as reflecting on the past, the boys were asked to write about the type of world they would like to see, what needs to change in the world to make it a better place, and who they need to be in order to make that vision a reality.

Williams was central to the project and workshops through the sharing of his own journey – of both struggles and successes – as a young Black man growing up in London. Within the programme HEFH Mind links key points of Williams’ story to themes around mental health and wellbeing.

For the series of posters, Williams also photographed eight of the boys, with the images accompanying the letters in the posters, which will be displayed on Clear Channel sites across the UK.

The project follows Williams’ Letter to Zion, a public letter to his son who was born during the George Floyd protests, which expresses his hopes and dreams for his son’s future. His letter, and the image of him holding his son, was featured on billboards across the country last year. Last year, Williams also created Let’s Not Forget, a campaign responding to Floyd’s death and the protests that it sparked.

“It’s great to see an organisation like HFEH Mind taking the conversation regarding people in the Black community seriously,” says Williams. “After all the commitments that companies made last year, and the visibility of the Black community, it is evident that we are a long way from where we need to be, and that we need to focus now more than ever on the emotional wellbeing and mental resilience of people within the Black community and the unresolved trauma many of us have faced for years.

“It has become even more apparent from this programme that many of the boys don’t often see that light at the end of the tunnel, and even within their generation experience or witness discrimination and racism within the educational system and from the wider society. It is important this work does not stop here but goes on to make significant change across the educational system supporting the wellbeing of the Black boys affected.”

HFEH Mind is creating a tool kit in consultation with the Black boys who took part in the workshop, and the charity’s service user co-production group. The toolkit will draw inspiration from The World I Want To See and better equip schools to address racism and support those affected.

To find out more about the toolkit visit hfehmind.org.uk

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes