Black Light Project

A worker installs a Black Light Project banner Tuesday on the Rocky Mount Mills campus.

The Black Light Project has begun working with the City of Rocky Mount to unveil banners of subjects featured in the exhibit that has been displayed at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences.

The first public banner was displayed Tuesday on the Rocky Mount Mills campus.

“These portraits of Kyle Johnson and Yannick McLeod as well as the others that can be found throughout the community are a testament to the strength and beauty that is Rocky Mount,” said Rocky Mount Mills Development Manager Evan Covington Chavez. “We are thrilled to have them displayed on campus and to share them with those who visit.”

Remaining banners will be unveiled during the next two weeks throughout the city.

The Black Light Project features the photo stories and recordings of eight Black men from Nash and Edgecombe counties. The exhibit has been on display at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences since the spring.

The Greenville-based Black Light Project is a creative partnership of founder and director Tonya Jefferson-Lynch and photographers Bryce Chapman and Randy Curtis. The project is designed to challenge the media’s common and often negative narrative about Black men by highlighting the positive narratives of real everyday Black men who are the rule, not the exception.

“The Black Light Project is more than banners placed across the horizon of Rocky Mount,” Jefferson-Lynch said. “It is a representation of what has always been and will always be — Black men watching carefully over their community with love and in strength. And in this moment, foreshadowing the change in our collective perception of Black men throughout our country.”

The Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department received a $45,000 Inclusive Public Art grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to promote the banner portion of the project.

Media coverage of the project has included statewide organizations such as WUNC-TV.