The Black Man Project creating avenues to heal forward with mobile therapy, museum collaboration

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Healing forward: The Black Men Project taking therapy to communities
The Black Man Project's Brian Ellison and Anthony Suber gave an update on their latest growth since joining ABC13's town hall in 2023.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Black Man Project is expanding its footprint, taking healing and accessibility to mental health resources directly to communities.

"We live in a world of comparison and kids have access to technology and constantly comparing their realities, so we're teaching kids anger management skills, coping skills. To learn how to affirm yourself is a skillset, to learn how to talk positive to yourself is a skillset," explained The Black Man Project's founder Brian Ellison.

Ellison and the group's creative director, Anthony Suber, stopped by ABC13 to share more about what The Black Man Project is doing, especially with Healing Forward, a mobile educational vehicle aimed at connecting with at-risk youth.

"Healing Forward allows us the opportunity to broaden our scope and more specifically work with youth, and so the healing therapy vehicle will go to schools and we'll be able to provide cuts, conversations and holistic curriculum," Ellison said. "On top of that, we provide a haircut. When you look good, you feel good, the opportunity to do good is increased and so that is what Healing Forward provides."

Ellison was first introduced to Eyewitness News viewers as a panelist on our Action 13: Black Men and Mental Health town hall in 2023, noting that only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receive it.

That's one of the reasons The Black Man Project exists.

The organization works nationally to explore the complexity of Black masculinity for men and boys, creating safe spaces that nurture healing, accountability and brotherhood.

The Black Man Project has grown now to include The Black Woman Project, which Ellison and Suber said, just made sense.

"The Black Woman Project is an effort for us to connect to the community, be inclusive of Black men and Black women, and one of the things that I also want to point out is it's a multi-generational conversation. So with The Black Woman Project, our aim is to make sure we stand strong together as a community," Suber said.

Suber and Ellison are also both artists, so it's fitting that one of their major moves has included working with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

MFAH is currently hosting artist Kehinde Wiley's work in the exhibit "An Archaeology of Silence," and pay close attention when you view it, because The Black Man Project plays a role in it.

The works are large-scale paintings and sculptures of men and women in repose and confronts the silence surrounding systemic violence and injustice, according to a description of the exhibit.

Wiley is known for placing his subjects, who are often Black and brown people, in poses similar to those featured in Western Europe. If his name sounds familiar, he's also the artist behind the portrait for former President Barack Obama.

Along with being part of the exhibit, The Black Man and The Black Woman Project, the latter founded by Tarren Everett, are offering monthly meditation sessions in the Cullen Sculpture Garden. The sessions are free to the public, but you are asked to register if you wish to attend.

But protecting mental health is as much about partnership as it is community.

After the 2023 town hall, The Black Man Project connected with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, founded by actress Taraji P. Henson.

"This was the brainchild of Brian early on to reach out to other foundations that we're doing the work. One of the things we're really looking forward to doing is expanding the project," Suber said.

That expansion will first come in teaming up with Henson's foundation to offer up to 15 men five, free therapy sessions.

Hear more about The Black Man Project's growth and what's next in the interview featured in the video player above.

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