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20 Men Project features successful Black men in Chester County: "I hope that they see hope"

Chester County's 20 Men Project shows the movement of successful Black men
Chester County's 20 Men Project shows the movement of successful Black men 02:03

CHEYNEY, Pa. (CBS) -- Cheyney University in Chester County will hold a panel discussion Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Main Library to feature several men photographed as part of the 20 Men Project, highlighting successful Black men in the community.

"You see the signs on the highway. There's always the wanted signs, and most of the time they are of Black men," Sandrien de Bruijn-Mesman said.

Photographer Bruijn-Mesman was disturbed by this and the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis in 2020. So, she helped launch the 20 Men Project, which started with a photoshoot featuring Larry Washington. It soon included politicians, real estate experts, barbers and many others.

Sandrien de Bruijn-Mesman

"I got calls from people saying, 'Can I be part of this project? I would like to be photographed.' So for now, we have 32 men that are photographed," she said.

"Maybe brave is also a good word to describe what they did. It's very welcomed," said West Pikeland Township auditor Ashton Simmons.

He said he was happy to lend his image to inspire young people.

"Well, there's people out there in the world that are doing these things. So, you can do them," Simmons said.

So was Jerry Poe, who travels throughout the country leading corporate trainings for thousands of workers.

"There's so many young men and women that don't always see faces that look like ours in successful images," Poe said.

Sandrien de Bruijn-Mesman

He wanted to change that and hoped those who see him and his brothers featured know that they, too, can make an impact.

"They are standing on the shoulders of strong people who have endured, that they are living the dreams of their ancestors," Poe said.

De Bruijn-Mesman said she hoped to have as many eyes as possible see the exhibition at Cheyney University.

"And I hope that they see hope," she said.

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